Penrith showed their class and dominance by downing a depleted Melbourne Storm side 32-6 in the nightcap of Day 2 of the NRL's Magic Round.
Wet conditions met both sides as the surface was starting to show its wear and tear after staging the previous four games and the preceding week-long deluge of rain. Melbourne was already down on troops but lost Jahrome Hughes before kickoff with a calf injury, making their already difficult task even more challenging taking on a rejuvenated Panthers side who were coming off their first loss of the season.
Penrith got off to the perfect start when they collected the opening try just after five minutes when Izack Tago crossed after a lovely set play from the Panthers down the left-hand edge. The great combination from Isaah Yeo and Jarome Luai continued to fire as Luai turned it on the inside to Izack Tago who crossed for the first try of the contest and gave the premiers an early 6-0 lead. Five minutes later, Cleary went to the skies and found a high flying Villiame Kikau who soared to new heights to cross for the Panthers' second try.
Melbourne would overcome the early ambush when Cam Munster engineered a mini fightback. Munster first stripped the ball from Tago and then on the final tackle, placed his kick with pinpoint accuracy for Nick Meaney who crossed to get Melbourne back in the game and only trail by 6 points after a great sideline conversion from Meaney. Melbourne would have opportunities but unfortunately, the final passes were going to the ground and allowed Penrith to be let off the hook.
A high shot from Meaney on Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards allowed Cleary to pot over a penalty goal to extend the margin out to two scores, although Penrith realistically should've scored due to Stephen Crichton passing up the overlap. Off the ensuing set after points, stand in fullback Tyran Wishart let a nightmare bomb from Luai spill from his grasp and Tago slid over to score his second try. Cleary's conversion set Penrith up with a comfortable 20-6 half-time advantage.
Penrith applied the blow torch furiously in the second stanza, with a remarkable 75-25 split in territory down Melbourne's end of the ground. A controversial penalty against Meaney for apparently obstructing Stephen Crichton set Penrith up with this field position. Penrith would stay down here for the majority of the second half. Melbourne would hang on for dear life, but the pressure was too much and Kikau turned provider for Luai to stroll over and extend the margin to 20 points. Nine minutes later, Crichton again nearly blew an opportunity but had way too much strength for Meaney to cross for the Panthers to set up the 26 point margin.
Melbourne tried their hardest, but unfortunately combined ill-discipline with a poor completion rate and you don't do that against a ruthless team like the Panthers. They have to regroup and go up to Townsville to take on the Cowboys. Penrith on the other hand, have a tough Saturday night ahead when they take on the Roosters at the SCG.