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Melbourne have held off a spirited Penrith outfit, recording their 200th premiership win and superstar centre's Greg Inglis' 200th game.
The game started off scrappily with both team's dropping the ball in the opening ten minutes of the game. Ball handling wasn't a high concern for both team's in the first half, with the error count climbing and attacking opportunities being wasted.
Melbourne grabbed the first points of the half after Cooper Cronk's interjection into the game, busting the Penrith defensive line and passing it to Hinchcliffe who then passed it to Slater who scored under the sticks. Penrith responded just before halftime via McKendry after a large wait of possession to make the scoreline 6-4 at halftime.
After halftime, Melbourne came out the stronger with Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater combining with a crossfield kick to increase the Storm's lead to eight. Penrith had a serious case of dropsies to open the half with Luke Lewis, the main offender. This allowed Melbourne to score their third try, with Luke MacDougall scoring in the corner.
The scoreline was looking too much for the Panthers after they kept squandering good attacking positons but with seven minutes to go, they finally got closer after Lachlan Coote finished off a series of offloads but Michael Gordon slotting the kick to reduce the advantage to six. Penrith got several more chances to level the game in the last five minutes but Melbourne's defense held and they ran out winners 16 points to 10.
Penrith Panthers 10 were defeated by Melbourne Storm 16
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 3 - Saturday March 27, 2010 5:30pm
Venue: CUA Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger and Phil Haines
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Henry Perenara
Halftime: Penrith Panthers 4 Melbourne Storm 6
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Cooper Cronk
2 Points - Cameron Smith (2 Conversions)
1 Point - Petero Civoniceva
Penrith Panthers (10)
Tries: Sam McKendry, Lachlan Coote
Conversions: Michael Gordon (1/2)
Melbourne Storm (16)
Tries: Billy Slater, Luke MacDougall, Brett Finch
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to a hot and humid CUA Stadium for tonight's clash between Penrith and Melbourne.
Earlier today in the Toyota Cup, Melbourne continued their unbeaten start to the year, defeating Penrith 36-22.
1 min: Lachlan Coote gets us underway for the game, with Lima taking the first hit-up.
1 min: Melbourne get the first penalty of the game, after Tolman is held down too long.
4 min: Nice hit by Luke Lewis, hitting Slater after taking a Walsh bomb.
5 min: Penrith now get a piggyback from their own end after Storm defenders didn't retreat the 10 metres.
6 min: Penrith make the first error of the game, 6 minutes in after Grant drops it close to the line.
7 min: Melbourne spread it from their own end early but Cahill drops an easy pass from Slater. Scrum to Penrith.
10 min: Petero keeps the ball alive on 5th after a rebound off Melbourne, puts a grubber through but is held back and earns his team a penalty.
11 min: Pressure relieved, Joseph Paulo drops the ball trying to run a hole. Melbourne to work it from their own end.
13 min: A great move side to side from Melbourne, leaves Anthony Quinn surging for the line but he's stopped! by Lachlan Coote. Held up, 5th tackle.
13 min: Melbourne try the crossfield bomb on 5th but it's defused. Penrith try to ruck the ball out but throw it forward. Melbourne with a great opportunity for first points.
14 min: Greg Inglis tries to isolate Jennings fending him off and taking two defenders and tries the flick to Quinn but it rolls over the sideline harmlessly.
15 min: Another Penrith penalty with amrkers not being square, allowing Penrith an easy passage from their own territory.
17 min: Cooper Cronk gets his first taste of football in 2010, changing with Hep Cahill. Meanwhile Aiden Tolman drops the ball on his own 40 metre line
18 min: Another soft end for Penrith there, throwing the ball forward and wasting another opportunity.
21 min: TRY
Cooper Cronk with his first touch of the football, makes a break, throws it to Hinchcliffe who finds Slater who gives it to Brett Finch to score the first points of the game. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
22 min: Cronk follows up his beautiful first touch with his hands with a 40-20 to get Melbourne deep down into Penrith territory.
23 min: Proctor undoes all of Cronk's work by dropping the ball on third, in a great position.
24 min: Melbourne make a nice break but it's thawted by Lowrie dropping the ball.
26 min: Penrith again cough it up in their own end. Melbourne try to spread it early but drop the pill themselves. Scrum Penrith!
27 min: Luke Walsh finishes off a good Penrith set, by getting a line drop-out. Penrith on the attack.
28 min: Nigel Plum tries to get up and play the ball too quickly and drops the ball, to give Melbourne an easy passage out of their own line.
30 min: A strip by three Melbourne defenders is spooted by the referee who promptly blows his whistle. Penrith have a good attacking opportunity.
31 min: Another error by the Panthers, when Walsh shows it outside and throws it inside to Lewis who drops the ball.
33 min: Inglis stands tall on the 5th and just grabs the ball in the in-goal to get a 20m restart for his side.
33 min: Melbourne piling the pressure on themselves with another drop ball in their own half.
34 min: The ball comes free from Luke Lewis' grasp but it's deemed a Penrith feed, to Melbourne's bemusement.
37 min: TRY
Puleta drives it closer and after a quick play the ball, McKendry dives over and it's a try after some thought by the video referee. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon unsuccessful.
Melbourne Storm 6-4
38 min: Melbourne losing some momentum here, with a hand in the ball penalty, getting Penrith away from their own end.
39 min: Handling a problem for Penrith, Luke Lewis trying to run into a hole, drops it again in a good attacking position for Penrith.
40 min: Melbourne continue to attack just before halftime with Cronk chipping the ball for Slater but eventually it's defused and takes us to halftime.
40 min: HALFTIME - It's been a scrappy half, with plenty of errors from both sides and only two tries scored. Both teams will be given a rocket for the second half.
40 min: Some kid's have a sign for their junior league club, Bowraville JRLC on the New South Wale's North-Coast for their hero Greg Inglis.
41 min: Cameron Smith get's us underway in the second half and Penrith fall to utilise the ball and drop it in their first set.
42 min: Melbourne march to the 10m line after a Luke Lewis flop on Finch.
44 min: TRY
All the possession for Melbourne has bore fruit, with Cronk kicking it for Slater who jumps high and scores a four pointer after confirmation from the video ref. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Melbourne Storm 12-4
46 min: Melbourne keep the ball alive with Penrith unable to wrap up the ball but Finch harmlessly grubbers the ball dead.
49 min: A rebound and drop by Melbourne gives Penrith a repeat six and they keep it alive to the 10m line but Lewis drops the ball.
50 min: The drop is compounded with a penalty after a second effort on Cooper Cronk.
51 min: Hometown crowd get behind their team and get a penalty after several quick play the balls. Penrith deep into Melbourne territory.
52 min: The Panthers just can't maintain possession, this time Nigel Plum drops it after contact with Greg Inglis.
54 min: Complete shambles by Penrith here, they have dropped it again on their 30m, presenting Melbourne a chance to shut them out.
55 min: Possible Melbourne try..
56 min: TRY
Penrith have paid the ultimate price of dropping ball, with a nice movement by Melbourne, finished by Luke MacDougall. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.
Melbourne Storm 16-4
61 min: Both teams are making a lot of metres in attack but the 5th tackle option has been lackluster so far,
62 min: Dane Nielson puts down the ball which is swooped upon. Penrith spread it wide but Jennings throws it to the touch judge! Scrum Storm.
64 min: Cooper Cronk has a rare blemish for the game, dropping the ball after a hard pass.
65 min: Another cheap turnover by Penrith close to the Storm line, allows Melbourne to just roll out of their own end again.
66 min: Panthers force another turnover from the Storm and have a chance to keep themselves in the game.
68 min: Insane passage of play there, with Penrith looking to stay in the game but a chip kick is swooped upon by Slater who keeps it alive for the Storm.
70 min: Melbourne earn a penalty to march themselves downfield but Finch's grubber is taken by Coote.
73 min: TRY
Penrith roll down the field and Walsh is tackled on the fourth, leaving Luke Lewis to kick a high bomb that is kept alive and thrown to Coote who dots down close to the posts. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Melbourne Storm 16-10
74 min: Penrith get into Melbourne territory after a penalty from the kick off.
75 min: Same old story for Penrith, Luke Lewis puts his hand out for a pass but it hit's his hand and it's an error.
77 min: Penrith chip the ball ahead and rush to put pressure on Billy Slater who spills the ball and gives Penrith the chance to equalise!
78 min: Penrith get close but try to spread the ball wide and their hands fail them again, that was their last chance.
79 min: Penrith have their last roll here and keep it alive on the fifth and throw it wide to Gordon but he's caught with the ball and it's a turnover.
80 min: FULLTIME - Safety first set to Melbourne finishes off a sloppy game, where Melbourne have run out winners.