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Melbourne have hit the road and will venture back with two points, after downing a spirited Panthers team 25-10 at Penrith Park.
Melbourne have joined Brisbane back on top, after withstanding a spirited Panthers outfit to record their first away win for 2011.
Panthers came to play after some disappointing games at home, forcing the first error of the contests, making Slater fumble at dummy-half. It took both sides some time to warm into the contest, fighting for field possession but it only took 12 minutes for the first points.
It came from something that has become acustomed with Melbourne, attacking from deep in their own half. Kevin Proctor popping an offload to Widdop who is growing with every game, he drew the fullback and found Cronk who fist-pumped and put the ball down. Smith had no worries from in front and it was 6-0.
This was a watermark moment for Penrith, they could strike back and make a game of this or they would fold like their first two home games and watch the opposition rack up the points. Luckily they went with the former, Sandor Earl finding open space after jumping for a bomb, taking it all the way and putting it under the black dot, allowing Gordon to throw it over to make it 6 all.
That wasn't the last scoring play we had in the first half, Penrith made a meal of a bomb put up by Cronk and they opted for the penalty to make it 8-6, going into halftime. Penrith made Melbourne work for all eight of those points and sniffing an upset.
Unfortunately that would be the closest Penrith would get, Gareth Widdop again found himself with only the fullback to beat in the 51st minute and gave it to Billy Slater to stroll in and widen the gap to eight points.
Penrith kept shooting themselves in the foot though, after a huge hit from Tahu and keeping Melbourne pinned in their own 20, Sandor Earl went from hero to villian, dropping the ball cold with only sunshine for company. Melbourne didn't need a second invitation, putting a play on from the scrum and Matt Duffie went over to celebrate his new three year deal and seal the deal on the contest at 18-6.
Just for insurance, Cooper Cronk took a stab from 40 metres out and slotted a field goal followed by Proctor combining with Bryan Norrie to just put the exclaimation mark on the match.
Timana Tahu would get his first try in Penrith colours but that was making the end scoreline of 25-10 more respectable, leaving Penrith languishing with two wins from their opening six matches.
Penrith Panthers 10 were defeated by Melbourne Storm 25
National Rugby League - Round 6 - Sunday April 17, 2011 3:00pm
Venue: Centrebet Stadium Penrith
Referee: Ben Cummins and Chris James
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: David Abood and Henry Peranara
Halftime: Penrith Panthers 6 Melbourne Storm 8
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Billy Slater (1 Try)
2 Points - Gareth Widdop
1 Point - Kevin Proctor
PENRITH PANTHERS (10)
Tries: Timana Tahu, Sandor Earl
Conversions: Michael Gordon (1/2)
MELBOURNE STORM (25)
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Bryan Norrie, Matt Duffie
Field Goals: Cooper Cronk (1/1)
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to a overcast Penrith Park, for this afternoon's match, between Penrith and Melbourne. Penrith are coming off a good victory at home last against the underachieving Raiders, while Melbourne disposed of Parramatta 38-0. Earlier in the Toyota Cup, Melbourne won a thriller 28-26, with the lead changing several times before an Edward Fa'amausili try on fulltime won it for the Storm.
There aren't many changes this afternoon for either side, Penrith have one, Sam McKendry and Tim Grant swap, with the former starting. Melbourne are 1-17.
1 min: Melbourne are the first on the field and await Penrith who are out next, to a cheer from the crowd. Smith kicks off and here we go!
2 min: A good and aggressive set from Penrith, they launched it high on last, forcing Slater to drop the ball. Scrum Penrith.
3 min: Petero goes close but he's stopped. Next play, McKendry rewarded with a start, drops it cold and then Penrith concede back to back penalties.
4 min: Sloppy start by both sides, Melbourne try the decoy play early but it's dropped. No rain to blame this afternoon either.
6 min: Kevin Proctor has sent Nigel Plum base over apex and Plum is worse for wear.
8 min: On last, Melbourne are forced to spread it wide to Duffie who tries the chip for himself but Gordon cleans up. He offloads to Simmons who makes good metres and earns the penalty.
12 min: TRY
That was class! Jesse Bromwich fights in the tackle and offloads to Widdop who sums up the situation and draws the fullback, popping the offload to Cronk who fistpumps and scores. Smith from in front, slams it over.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
14 min: Scrum penalty here, Melbourne are penalised for almost winning the scrum against the feed.
15 min: This drop ball is going to cost Penrith, another drop ball in Melbourne's half.
David Simmons could have Penrith's first for the afternoon but we're checking sideline and put-down. It isn't looking good for Penrith.
20 min: NO TRY! Simmons touched the sideline after a beautiful pass, good scramble from Melbourne.
23 min: You have to lock up the ball Penrith! Melbourne are offloading at will currently but they go one too many to Widdop who spills it.
25 min: Penrith piling on the pressure here, got a penalty near the line but they can't get over the line, so Walsh rolls it in-goal for a repeat set.
26 min: A dump ball for Fataki there, who under immense pressure drops the ball.
29 min: Both teams trading drop ball here, Penrith almost through but forward to Jennings.
33 min: TRY
Cronk puts the bomb up last, Sandor Earl leaps high and finds open space. He streaks away, with only Adam Woolnough for company but he gives up and Earl goes in under the black dot. Gordon slots it from in front and we have a level ballgame again.
36 min: Deliberate tactic here by Penrith, finding the sideline at the end of every set to deny Slater any opportunities.
37 min: Penrith can take the lead here, Nafe Seluini latches onto a loose ball from Melbourne.
38 min: Good kick from Walsh here, pinned Duffie right in the corner and it's a dropout because he jumped from the field of play. Good call referee.
40 min: We're close to the half and Penrith are pinged for an offside from the kick. Melbourne go for the penalty goal.
40 min: PENALTY GOAL
Cameron Smith steps up and puts it through. Halftime.
Melbourne Storm 8-6
41 min: We're back for what will be a tough second half, whoever holds the ball will get over the top, after a sloppy first half. Penrith get us back underway.
44 min: Walsh makes a mess of the end of a good set by Penrith, kicking it out on the full.
45 min: Piggyback penalty for Penrith here, all over him barked the referee.
48 min: Clumsy there from Quinn and Penrith will be piggybacked from their own half again.
49 min: Duffie had no right to make it out of the in-goal there, he went up for the bomb, spilt it back, saw no one was there to swoop on it, got out of the in-goal.
50 min: Here is Penrith's opportunity, Cooper Cronk tries to bite off too much with the kick and it goes out on the full.
51 min: A penalty for Penrith, another set for them to launch an attack on the Storm line.
54 min: TRY
Melbourne strike, they threw it wide to Widdop who goes through a yawning gap draws Gordon and passes to Slater who walks it in for the Storm's second for the afternoon. Smith with his second from the same position, slots it.
Melbourne Storm 14-6
55 min: Waterhouse decides to have a slight nap while on top of a Melbourne player but he's woken by the referees whistle.
58 min: Boom goes the dynamite! Tahu has exploded here, he has laid out Brian Norrie who has somehow held onto the ball. It'll be last tackle here.
59 min: Things have heated up, Ryan Hinchcliffe collects a Penrith player high and tempers flare. Penrith have the penalty and we have a game yet.
61 min: That has deflated the crowd, after a great set where they kept Melbourne in their own 20, Cooper Cronk kicks it deep and Sandor Earl looks to have it covered but spills it.
64 min: TRY
Melbourne put a play on from the scrum, Slater drifts across luring three people in, passes to Widdop who sums things up and gives it to Duffie to score in the corner! That should be the game but Cameron Smith has given them a sniff, missing the kick, margin is twelve.
Melbourne Storm 18-6
66 min: Penrith are reaching deep in the bag of tricks here, Walsh tries a chip kick that goes nowhere and knocked on. Handover.
68 min: FIELD GOAL
Nothing doing for Melbourne in this set, Cronk from near the sideline, slots the field goal from 40 metres out.
Melbourne Storm 19-6
70 min: Six again for Melbourne, they can sniff blood in the water.
Brian Norrie may have a try, checking grounding.
73 min: TRY
All Melbourne's playmakers were sniffing around to score but it went from prop to prop, with Norrie diving over. That's the third try of his career. Smith has another from in front and slams it over again.
Melbourne Storm 25-6
76 min: Melbourne are playing with Penrith here, putting in kicks for wingers. This one almost bites them with Gordon nearly weaving his way to the line.
79 min: TRY
Good work by Penrith, Burns finds Tahu who is in a hole, dummies, fends and scores. Gordon takes his time but the conversion goes wide.
Melbourne Storm 25-10
80 min: Last set of the game, Walsh tries the kick for Sandor who misses it completely but he doesn't miss Quinn who he collects high. Melbourne opt for the goal.
80 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
Smith hits the crossbar. Seluini tries to go himself, chipping over the top but it goes straight to Slater who gives Duffie a wonky pass and he tries a chip, why not but it dribbles over the sideline and that ends proceedings tonight.
Melbourne Storm 25-10