The precision of the Storm, along with their freakish ability and well coached gameplans have them set to reach their 3rd Minor Premiership in as many years.
It was a comprehensive 8 tries to 1 victory for the Storm tonight – sending them exclusively to the top of the NRL Table. With seemingly still plenty left in their tank, other NRL sides much be seriously considering whether they should turn up if they have to face Melbourne in the GF.
The only enemies for the Storm seem to be complacency and effects of extended travel, as they remain in Sydney on the Central Coast before they face the Knights later this week.
Pivot Greg Inglis was again at his exciting best tonight with a 3 try performance to go with former Panther Steve Turner’s double, the Panthers throwing away their chances of a Top 8 spot with a heavy loss tonight.
Things started to mount against the Panthers after a late, low hit by Luke Priddis on Cooper Cronk gifting the Storm an early penalty with Anthony Quinn scoring soon after, the game all but over at half-time with the Storm racing away to a 20-0 lead.
There was a hint of a Panthers revival early in the second half with a Nathan Smith try a few minutes in from the break. But it was short lived for the Panthers, the Storm charging downfield and gaining a repeat set – then a 50/50 penalty against Rhys Wesser at the play the ball breaking their backs immediately, with the Storm scoring from the restart.
There is a slim chance the Panthers can sneak into the Top 8 if they win their remaining two matches and pray other results go their way.
The problems were also compounded off the NRL field for the Panthers with TV commentary claiming Penrith trainers had mentioned backrower Frank Pritchard refused to go back onto the field after copping a shoulder injury from an attempted tackle on Jeff Lima.
Melbourne look set to secure the NRL minor premiership with a single game remaining if they get over the top of the Newcastle Knights on Saturday and Manly and Cronulla both go down in their games.
MELBOURNE 40 (G Inglis 3 S Turner 2 J Lima A Quinn C Smith tries C Smith 4 goals) bt PENRITH 6 (N Smith try M Gordon goal) at CUA Stadium. Referee: M Cecchin. Crowd: 8,813.