After going down in a thriller to Parramatta, Penrith Panthers premiership credentials would be further examined when they faced a Melbourne Storm side who were looking for three wins in a row.
After an near-errorless first ten minutes, it looked as though one player would have to do something special to break the deadlock, and it took until the 15th minute for something to happen
After Justin Olam was penalised for escorting Dean Whare off the ball, the Panthers looked as they though could break through the line. However, a falcon off the head of Viliame Kikau relieved all the pressure on the Storm.
Minutes later though, Penrith were finally rewarded for their hard work.
Api Koroisau attacked the short side, and Jarome Luai held up the Storm defence, missed a pass out to Josh Mansour, who then pass inside to Stephen Crichton who raced away to score.
Since scoring, Penrith were certainly on top of the Storm and forced yet further goal-line drop-outs.
With ten minutes to go until the break, Melbourne showed their class after absorbing so much pressure in defence.
Cameron Munster took the ball to the line, and despite a poor pass from the half-back, Felise Kaufusi collected the ball and charged straight through the Panthers defence to score.
Cameron Smith converted to level the scores.
With the first half coming to a close, Viliami Kikau picked up a bad knock in back play.
Despite the lack of their most dangerous player, the Panthers picked up a penalty after Cameron Smith ran Nathan Cleary off the ball.
This gave Cleary the chance to give his side a two-point lead, with minutes to go until the break.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 8-6 Melbourne Storm
The first half started slightly brighter for the Melbourne Storm after they camped deep in the Panthers half.
After Penrith managed to keep Melbourne out, the game turned into a midfield battle for a few minutes before the home side extended their lead further.
With half an hour to go, Koroisau, Isaah Yeo, Nathan Cleary and Dylan Edwards shifted the ball out to the right-hand side to Brian To’o, who stepped inside Papenhuyzen to score.
Five minutes later, the Storm pulled back once again, as Cameron Munster dummied, and then threw a bullet pass to Brenko Lee, who waltzed through a huge gap in the Panthers defence to score. Cameron Smith converted to make it 14-12.
Moments later, Penrith were caught offside at the ruck through Dylan Edwards and Cameron Smith slotted the two points to level the scores with a quarter of the game left.
With just over 15 minutes remaining, Kikau returned to the field extremely refreshed and showed that a small break had done him well when he claimed Nathan Cleary’s inch-perfect kick, with no Storm players around him, to score an easy try.
With ten minutes to go, Suliasi Vunivalu knocked on near his own goal-line to give the Panthers an attacking scrum from ten metres out.
Having forced a goal-line drop-out, Penrith were set up for a field goal. However, Api Koroisau knocked on to give Melbourne a chance to get back into the game.
With three minutes, 40 seconds on the clock, Nathan Clearly received the ball from 40-metres out and struck a perfect drop-goal despite being under pressure from three Melbourne players for a 7-point lead.
The game was far from over though, as the Storm picked up a penalty inside the Penrith ten-metre line. However, a poor pass from Ryley Jacks allowed Penrith to run that ball out from their own line and pin the Storm back inside their half.
With 30 seconds left, Liam Martin was penalised after not being square at marker and then stopped the quick tap penalty, resulting in a yellow card for the second-rower.
With the final play of the game, Munster kicked into the corner but Marion Seve couldn’t quite claim the ball and the hooter blew.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 21-14 Melbourne Storm
Edwards, Mansour, Whare, Crichton, To’o, Luai, Cleary, Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Martin, Yeo
Interchanges: Burton, Tetevano, Leota, Burns
Tries: Crichton, To’o, Kikau
Goals: Cleary (4/4)
Papenhuyzen, Vunivalu, Olam, Lee, Seve, Munster, Jacks, J. Bromwich, C, Smith, B. Smith, Kaufusi, K. Bromwich, Finucane
Interchanges: Welch, Faasuamaleaui, Eisenhuth, Asofa-Solomona
Tries: Kaufusi, Lee
Goals: C. Smith (3/3)
Referee: A. Klein
Touch Judges: C. Butler, P. Gough
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)