The Penrith Panthers sunk further into their recent slump on Saturday night when they were outplayed by a courageous Melbourne Storm 18 – 10 at AAMI Park.
Narrowly hanging on to their top two spot on the ladder, Penrith have now lost their past three matches and need to find some form quickly if they are to stay in second spot.
After more off-field drama tainting the Storm’s lead-up to Saturday’s match, it was a big effort for Melbourne to put an end to their recent succession of losses and come up with a solid win.
Despite three recent losses Penrith still look good to payout for punters that bet on them to ‘Make the Top 4’ at Ladbrokes.com.au
It was a slow start to the showdown that had more dropped balls and dismal completion rates than any other of the weekend’s games, with neither team scoring in the first quarter.
The Storm eventually broke the dead lock in the 21st minute when centre Dane Nielsen opened their account.
Skipper Cam Smith converted the first try with ease to give Melbourne the six point lead.
Panthers answered quickly with Adrian Purtell latching onto a Nathan Smith pass and scoring Penrith’s first in the 26th minute, but with Michael Gordon missing the conversion the big cats still trailed by two heading into the break.
Adrian Purtell was at excellent odds to score the Panther’s first try at Ladbrokes.com.au
In the second half Penrith looked ready to pounce when the flying young Michael Jennings scored their second in the 58th minute, making up for an earlier defensive error that had lead to the Storm’s try.
This time Gordon converted and they stole the lead 10 – 6.
But two late tries by a determined Storm saw the home side secure victory.
First rising youngster Justin O’Neill got over in the 66th minute, Smith’s kick pushing them in front, and then two minutes from full time winger Matthew Duffie put the result beyond doubt with a third and final converted try.
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