Rugby League

Storm stun Panthers to stretch unbeaten Round 1 run to 22 years

March 8, 2024 10:10 pm

[Source: NRL]

The Melbourne Storm produced a magnificent defensive display to down premiers Penrith 8-0 and stretch their unbeaten opening round record to a staggering 22 years.

In front of a boisterous home crowd at AAMI Park, Craig Bellamy’s men dug deep to launch their season in style without stars Cameron Munster and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

The Storm opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Nick Meaney slotted a penalty goal that would remarkably end up being the only points of the half.

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The Panthers came close in the 31st minute when a Nathan Cleary grubber was lost in-goal by Storm bench man Alec MacDonald but the ball rolled dead before the premiers could ground it.

On the stroke of half-time the Storm launched a right side raid and Meaney slid over in the corner but his body was touching the sideline as he grounded the ball in a desperate cover tackle by Taylan May and Dylan Edwards.

A high shot by Storm winger Will Warbrick on Sunia Turuva handed the Panthers a shot at late points but Cleary’s 41-metre two-point field goal shot sailed wide.

Four minutes into the second half the Storm launched an aerial raid through Jonah Pezet and Eli Katoa claimed a try but replays showed Ryan Papenhuyzen had knocked on in the contest for the ball.

It was then Penrith’s turn to come close with May slicing down the left wing and kicking back inside for Soni Luke to score but the video referee ruled that Jahrome Hughes had been obstructed in the lead-up.

The game finally had its first try in the 50th minute when Pezet launched another pinpoint kick and Xavier Coates tapped the ball back for Reimis Smith to score. Meaney piloted the sideline conversion and the Storm led 8-0.

With 22 minutes to play the Storm threatened to go further ahead when Tui Kamikamica forced his way over the line but the prop lost control of the ball as he tried to plant it down.

The Storm were under extreme pressure in the 64th minute when Luke grubbered into the in-goal but Smith, Coates and Papenhuyzen converged to get the ball over the dead ball line.

Luke continued to probe and earned his team another repeat set but a poor kick by Jarome Luai allowed the Storm to defuse the situation and come away.

The premiers continued to throw everything at the Storm but huge defensive efforts by Josh King and Coates ensured the club’s remarkable Round 1 record would remain intact.