Penrith Panthers produced a brilliantly controlled performance which underlines their premiership credentials and defeated Melbourne Storm 21-14.
Melbourne had come back from eight points behind to level the game at 14-14 in the second half but two kicks from Nathan Cleary, one for a try and the other a field goal settled the matter late on.
Penrith grabbed the lead after 17 minutes when a short-side play saw Stephen Crichton cross. But despite the weight of possession being in the Panthers’ favour, Melbourne equalised when Cameron Munster fed Felise Kaufusi.
But Penrith managed to regain the advantage shortly before half-time through a penalty kicked by Nathan Cleary.
Ten minutes into the second half, a sweeping move to the left resulted in Brian To’o crossing for Penrith, increasing their lead to eight points.
But Melbourne managed to square the game in the next ten minutes. Brenko Lee crossed off another pass from Munster before an indiscretion in the ruck gave Cameron Smith the chance to level with a penalty.
But Cleary’s kicking got Penrith over the line. He kicked for Kikau for a well timed try with 17 minutes to play before he nailed a field goal with three minutes to play.
In the final minute, Liam Martin was sent to the bin after repeated offences from the Panthers but by then, it didn’t matter.
Panthers: Edwards, Mansour, Whare, Crichton, To’o, Luai, Cleary, Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Martin, Yeo; Interchanges: Burton, Tetevano, Leota, Burns
Tries: Crichton, To’o, Kikau; Goals: Cleary 4; Field goal: Cleary (77)
Sin bin: Martin (80) – repeated team offences
Storm: Papenhuyzen, Vunivalu, Olam, Lee, Seve, Munster, Jacks, J Bromwich, C Smith, B Smith, Kaufusi, K Bromwich, Finucane; Interchanges: Welch, Faasuamaleaui, Eisenhuth, Asofa-Solomona
Tries: Kaufusi, Lee; Goals: C Smith 3
Full match reports of all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express.