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Melbourne Storm 17 v Penrith Panthers 16
at Olympic Park Melb
Referees: Shayne Hayne
Cooper Cronk has produced a Brett Finch-like field goal to deliver a heart-stopping 17-16 victory to the Melbourne Storm over Penrith at Olympic Park this afternoon.
A Greg Inglis try at the 69th minute was the final points during regular time, as both sides battled out the last 10 minutes to no avail.
Penrith fans must have had their hearts in their mouths after the kick-off for extra time almost found touch. Luckily for the Panthers, they recovered and when Melbourne?s Steve Turner steered an 88th minute field goal attempt wide, it looked as though a draw was the most likely result.
But The Panthers? Tony Puletua made a costly error just 90 seconds from time, creating an opportunity for Melbourne to finally capitalise on a mountain of possession in useful field position.
Cronk took full advantage, slotting the one-pointer just 50 seconds away from what would have been season 2006?s first unbroken deadlock.
Earlier, the Panthers were off to a flyer as Luke Lewis came up with a crafty chip over the top before linking up with winger Nick Youngquest who scored out wide.
Melbourne winger Matt Geyer came up with a try completely against the run of play. Geyer intercepted a Luke Lewis pass to scamper 90 metres and subsequently lock the scores at 6.
Both sides traded blows for the remainder of the first half and Melbourne went into the sheds two points the better at 12-10.
Michael Gordon put the Panthers back in front at 16-12, and the succeeding Inglis try led to the golden point debacle.
No consolation for the Panthers on the injury front. Luke Lewis sustained injuries to both calf muscles at the 60th minute, while Frank Pritchard appears to have suffered a broken hand which may have occurred early in the extra-time period.
Melbourne seems to have come through this game unscathed.
Next weekend, Penrith meet Manly on Sunday afternoon at CUA Stadium whilst Melbourne will play the Sydney Roosters next Saturday evening at Olympic Park.
Melbourne Storm: 17
Tries: Matt Geyer, Greg Inglis, Jake Webster
Goals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 1/2
Field Goals: Cooper Cronk
Penrith Panthers: 16
Tries: Rhys Wesser, Nick Youngquest, Michael Gordon
Goals: Preston Campbell 2/3
By the Clock:
Olympic Park, Melbourne is the venue for this afternoon's round 12 meeting between the Melbourne Storm and the Penrith Panthers.
A bit of a reshuffle in the Panthers' line-up and that is as follows:
- Preston Campbell moves from five eighth to halfback for the injured Craig Gower.
- Luke Lewis moves from the centres to the vacated five eighth position.
- Luke Rooney moves from wing to centre.
- Lee Hookey comes into the side on the wing.
Melbourne are as-per-program.
KICKOFF! Match underway in Melbourne
4 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Penrith are over already thanks to a crafty chip over the top from Luke Lewis, who re-gathered and found support through Nick Youngquest who scored in the corner.
12 min: NEWS Promising start here from Penrith with the likes of Joel Clinton and Matthew Cross pushing the Panthers over the advantage line, and the creativity of new five eighth Luke Lewis has been of a high quality. Melbourne look tired and disorganised at this stage.
15 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
A try completely against the run of play as Matt Geyer runs 90 metres off an intercept to score for Melbourne. Could be a big play in the context of this game.
22 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Tremendous decoy run from Joel Clinton results in a wide open gap for a blistering Rhys Wesser to capitalise and score out wide. Penrith now leading 10-6 and this match could certainly go either way.
32 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Brilliant ball from Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk who linked up with centre Jake Webster to cross out wide for the Storm's second try.
Halftime: min: NEWS A real armwrestle developing here and at the break, Melbourne lead Penrith by 12 points to 10. The half has been evenly poised and with only one penalty awarded from referee Shayne Hayne, the players have been able to sort things out themselves. This match could go either way.
50 min: NEWS Still no change to the halftime score and the arm-wrestle continues here in Melbourne. Storm 12 Panthers 10.
55 min: NEWS A number of controversial decisions from Penrith here. They were awarded three penalties in succession but decided to go for the try, despite the fact that they trail by two points. Could be a real turning point with some tremendous Melbourne defence to dispell the raid.
60 min: NEWS Luke Lewis appears to have a calf problem although it could just be a cramp. Still no change to the halftime score, Melbourne 12 Penrith 10.
63 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Michael Gordon races in to score after a freak offload from Tony Puletua. Slight controversy with the try as Rhys Wesser appeared to be tackled in the lead-up but was allowed to get an offload away.
69 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Greg Inglis scores an unbelievable try untouched for Melbourne in the corner. Terrific backline movement from the Storm and the decoy run from Matt King clearly fooled the Panthers' defence.
73 min: NEWS Wesser misses an attempt at field goal and we could now be entering a field goal shoot-out. 16-all and a grandstand finish in prospect.
78 min: NEWS Matt Geyer pushed into touch with Melbourne on the attack. Poor discipline from the Storm who should have settled for the field goal as it was only the second tackle. Golden point looking likely now.
80 min: NEWS For the second time this weekend we go to golden point with these teams locked at 16 at the end of regular time.
Extra time kicks off
83 min: NEWS Melbourne have bombed two chances to kick a field goal. Cameron Smith missing a shot from point blank range. Deadlock still not broken.
85 min: NEWS Halftime in extra-time now. Still 16-16, Penrith to kick off.
88 min: NEWS Steve Turner misses another shot at field goal for the Storm and we could be headed for the season's first draw.
89 min: FIELD GOAL Melbourne Storm
Cooper Cronk kicks a field goal after a mistake from Tony Puletua. An unbelievable game of football here today. Melbourne run out winners by 17 points to 16. Match report to come...
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Greg Inglis
2 - Luke Lewis
1 - Matt Geyer