Storm edge out Panthers in Saturday night thriller

A Cooper Cronk field goal was the difference as the Melbourne Storm edged out the Penrith Panthers 18-17 in a thrilling game of football at AAMI Park tonight.

A flurry of early penalties against the Storm meant the Panthers had all the early ball in the first half. It was only some trademark Melbourne defence that was able to hold them out despite Penrith holding over 80 per cent of possession at one point.

Penrith weren't able to make the most of their chances but Melbourne had no such problems. Melbourne's first real opportunity on the Penrith line resulted in points when Kevin Proctor ran through some weak Penrith defence in the 10th minute to make the score 4-0.

Only four minutes later Penrith's left side defence was tested once again and Mahe Fonua went over in almost the exact same spot in the 14th minute to make it 8-0. Cameron Smith missed his second conversion of the night, keeping the Panthers in touching distance.

A couple of penalties against the Storm gave their opposition a chance to test their line and Kevin Naiqama happily obliged by strolling over into the corner virtually untouched to bring up the Panthers first points of the night. A sideline conversion from Wallace made the score 8-6, but Melbourne replied almost immediately when Sisa Waqa scored just three minutes later. Cameron Smith missed his third conversion of the match to keep the score at 12-6.

Kevin Naiqama went over for his second in the 35th minute and was denied by a dubious forward pass call just before half time that would have given him a first half hat-trick. A Melbourne penalty goal right on the siren took the scores to 14-10 in Melbourne's favour as the players went into the sheds for half time.

When Matt Moylan threw a long ball to put Josh Mansour into the corner for a converted try just 3 minutes into the second half it looked like being another try-filled half but that would be the last four pointer of the game.

One of the big talking points of the game was Billy Slater being sin binned on 58 minutes in his 250th game. In what seemed a tough call, Slater was ruled to have held down James Segeyaro after he had made a long break down field but the Panthers were unable to take advantage with the extra man.

As the rain kept pouring, the match turned into an old fashioned wet weather grind. The teams traded penalty goals with Wallace kicking one in the 59th minute before Smith slotted one from close range in the 68th minute to bring the scores to 16-all.

However, the match ultimately fell to the boots of Cronk and Wallace. Cronk kicked an ugly looking field goal in the 75th minute before Wallace replied with just under two minutes left on the clock. But with time running out Cronk calmly slotted his second field goal of the night to give his team the two points.

Wallace did have the chance to kick a penalty goal right on full time that would have won Penrith the game but it was waved wide and the Storm recorded their second one point win in as many weeks in 2014.


Match Details
Melbourne Storm 18 Penrith Panthers 17
Venue: AAMI Park
Crowd: 13952
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 14 Penrith Panthers 10

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cooper Cronk
2 points - Jesse Bromwich
1 point - Peter Wallace

MELBOURNE STORM (18)
Tries: Kevin Proctor, Mahe Fonua, Sisa Waqa
Field Goals: Cooper Cronk (2/2)
Conversions: Cameron Smith (0/3)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (2/2)

PENRITH PANTHERS (17)
Tries: Kevin Naiqama (2), Josh Mansour
Field Goals: Peter Wallace (1/2)
Conversions: Peter Wallace (1/3)
Penalty Goals: Peter Wallace (1/2)


LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

TEAM NEWS: The Panther have three late changes. Soward, Simmons and Yeo are all OUT and will be replaced by Isaac John, Kevin Naiqama and Jamal Idris. Storm are 1-17.

The action continues tonight with the Melbourne Storm taking on the Penrith Panthers from AAMI Park. Both teams were last start winners with Penrith recording a convincing victory over Newcastle and Melbourne securing a come from behind victory courtesy of a Cameron Smith field goal in extra time against Manly. Cooper Cronk is back in the Storm team after missing last week through injury and will likely be a key player if they are to secure the two points tonight. Many are tipping Penrith to be the big improver in 2014 but how will they fare in what is widely considered one of the hardest places to win away from home?

1: KICK OFF at AAMI Park and it will be the Storm who have first use of the ball.

1: Cooper Cronk is caught with the ball on the last tackle. The Panthers get the ball inside the Storm half.

2: PENALTY to the Panthers and they will be on the attack early.

3: Another PENALTY to the Panthers but they go wide early and Josh Mansour is pushed into touch. Scrum to the Storm.

5: Cooper Cronk is penalised and the Panthers get the chance to start another set in the Storm half.

6: A good set from the Panthers. Billy Slater has been tackled in his own in goal and the Panthers will get another set of six.

8: The Storm have only just managed to keep the Panthers out but they are let off the hook with a grubber that rolls dead in goal.

9: Melbourne get their first penalty and will start their set of six 30 metres out from the Panthers line.

10: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Kevin Proctor. Kick to come.

After having to soak up a huge amount of pressure, Kevin Proctor runs through some weak Panthers defence for the first try of the game.

11: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.

The conversion is wide and the score stays 4-0.

13: After a slow start the Storm have now trapped the Panthers in goal in their first set after scoring.

14: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Mahe Fonua. Kick to come.

Back to back tries to the Storm! Fonua goes over to make it 8-0.

16: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.

Cameron Smith misses the conversion from almost the exact same spot as his last attempt.

16: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Kevin Proctor makes an unforced error.

Proctor has knocked on close to his own line. The Panthers will be looking for a quick reply.

19: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Lewis Brown makes an unforced error.

Lewis Brown lets the Storm off the hook with a knock on in a good attacking position.

20: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Bryan Norrie makes an unforced error.

This time it is Norrie with the knock on. The wet weather might be starting to play some havoc here. Panthers on the attack.

21: Wallace puts a chip into the in-goal and Billy Slater has no option but to take it dead in goal for a line drop out.

22: The kick is too deep and Tonumaipea has an easy catch. 20 metre tap to the Storm.

24: Cameron Smith is penalised for holding down in the tackle and Segeyaro takes the quick tap.

25: Its another penalty to the Panthers. The Storm have done an incredible job to keep them out so far.

27: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by Kevin Naiqama. Kick to come.

Finally the Panthers get over. They created an overlap on the right hand side and Kevin Naiqama strolls over in the corner.

27: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION PENRITH PANTHERS
Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace successful.

Wallace adds the two points from the sideline.

30: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Sisa Waqa. Kick to come.

Melbourne reply almost straight away. Fonua creates some space on the right before sending over Sisa Waqa in the corner.

32: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.

Cameron Smith hits the post from the sideline. Score remains 12-6.

35: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by Kevin Naiqama. Kick to come.

Wallace puts up a big bomb which is dropped by Billy Slater. The Panthers pick up the ball and Naiqama goes over for his second try on the next play.

35: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION PENRITH PANTHERS
Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace unsuccessful.

Wallace with another conversion attempt from the right sideline but this time it goes across the face of goal.

38: Wallace runs through the defence on the first set after the Panthers try. On the next play a grubber is rolled into the in-goal and Hoffman is tackled in goal.

39: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Matt Moylan makes an unforced error.

Naiqama looks to be in for a first half hat-trick but the last pass from Moylan is called forward.

39: And now the Storm are let off and get a penalty that should take us through to half time

40: Another penalty to the Storm right as the half time siren sounds. Cameron Smith will have a shot at goal.

40: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL MELBOURNE STORM
Penalty goal attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Cameron Smith makes no mistake with this one. That could be a vital two points right before half time.

40: HALFTIME: The Panthers have had the majority of the ball but it's the Storm who lead 14-10.

41: The Storm kick off the second half.

42: It's a good first up set from the Panthers as they trap Melbourne deep in their own half.

42: PENALTY to the Storm and they are piggy-backed up field and into the Panthers half.

43: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by Josh Mansour. Kick to come.

Moylan makes a brilliant long pass out to Mansour and it's an early try to the Panthers in the second half.

45: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION PENRITH PANTHERS
Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace unsuccessful.

Wallace hooks the conversion from the sideline.

47: Wallace kicks the ball straight to Slater and Melbourne start their set 40 out from their own line.

47: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Matt Moylan makes an unforced error.

Cronk puts up a bomb and Moylan can't handle it. Mansour picks it up and is trapped in-goal.

49: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Billy Slater makes an unforced error.

Slater tries to tap a Cooper Cronk kick out wide but it is ruled to have gone forward.

49: And now the pressure is taken off the Panthers with a penalty.

51: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Kenneath Bromwich makes an unforced error.

The Storm making some easy metres out of dummy half but the ball is lost by Bromwich.

53: Penalty. The Panthers are caught inside the 10.

54: The Storm march up field and trap the Panthers in-goal on the last tackle.

55: Penalty to the Storm and they will start their set 18 metres out from the Panthers line.

56: Markers not square and it is ANOTHER penalty to the Storm. Pressure building.

57: Naiqama takes a low kick close to the line and it's the Panthers ball. The Panthers have done extremely well to keep the Storm out there.

58: SIN BIN
Billy Slater is sent to the sin bin.

Slater has been sin binned for a professional foul. He was deemed to have held down Segeyaro after he made a break.

59: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL PENRITH PANTHERS
Penalty goal attempt by Peter Wallace successful.

The Panthers elect to take the two and Wallace makes no mistakes.

61: Hampton filling in for Slater at the back and takes a good catch under pressure.

62: Brilliant kick from Wallace on the fifth. Right into the corner and Hampton is trapped less than 10 metres from his own line.

64: It's another high kick from Wallace but the ball goes out over the sideline and it's a handover to the Storm.

65: A great kick from Cronk that sits up in goal and Mansour takes it dead. Line drop out.

66: Six again for the Storm!

67: A penalty to the Storm and Cameron Smith will have a shot at goal from in front.

68: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL MELBOURNE STORM
Penalty goal attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Smith levels the scores.

69: The rain is bucketing down at AAMI Park as play is restarted.

69: Penalty. Cameron Smith kicks the ball out on the full deep in his own half but the Panthers players were not square at marker!

71: Mansour takes a Cronk bomb in-goal and the pressure subsides momentarily.

72: Adam Docker is penalised for using his shoulder in the tackle.

74: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Jamal Idris makes an unforced error.

It's a knock on both ways but Jamal touched it first. He didn't think so though and the replays seem to show he is right.

75: SUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL MELBOURNE STORM
Field goal attempt by Cooper Cronk successful.

Cooper Cronk nails a field goal from 10 metres out and right in front. Wasn't the best strike but the point is all that matters.

76: Bellamy won't like this! The Storm have given away a cheap penalty when the Panthers were in their own half.

78: UNSUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL PENRITH PANTHERS
Field goal attempt by Peter Wallace unsuccessful.

Wallace goes for a field goal but it is smothered.

78: The Storm turn it over and it could be a big finish.

79: SUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL PENRITH PANTHERS
Field goal attempt by Peter Wallace successful.

Wallace with another attempt at field goal and he has GOT IT!

79: Cameron Smith you GENIUS! He drills the restart over the sideline and the Storm have one last chance to win this in normal time. ONE minute to go.

80: SUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL MELBOURNE STORM
Field goal attempt by Cooper Cronk successful.

Cronk with the field goal and he has it.

80: UNSUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL PENRITH PANTHERS
Penalty goal attempt by Peter Wallace unsuccessful.

Penalty to the Panthers and Wallace has the chance to win the game with a penalty goal but he misses.

80: FULLTIME: Melbourne Storm win 18-17 over the Penrith Panthers. In a cracker of a match it is Cronk's late field goal that makes the difference.

80: Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for the match report.

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