Penrith displayed tremendous resilience as they overcame an early onslaught from Melbourne’s star players to secure a stunning 34-16 win at Marvel Stadium on Friday night. The Storm dominated the first 32 minutes, establishing a commanding 14-0 lead. However, the defending premiers quickly turned the tide with three tries in just eight minutes, taking a two-point advantage into halftime.
The competition leaders showcased their strength in depth, with key player Nathan Cleary absent. State of Origin stars Jarome Luai and Liam Martin stepped up in Cleary’s absence, while Izack Tago delivered an outstanding performance to contribute to the victory.
Melbourne opened the scoring with an early penalty goal and extended their lead to eight points when Harry Grant blocked a Jack Cogger kick and dashed to the try line. Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona added to their lead with a powerful hit on Isaah Yeo before crossing for a try in the 24th minute.
At halftime, Penrith appeared to face an immense challenge in the second half. However, a penalty try awarded to Stephen Crichton, who was obstructed by Nick Meaney, ignited an extraordinary sequence of play for the Panthers.
In the following set, Penrith quickly capitalised on their momentum, with Tago scoring a try that showcased the team’s ability to strike from deep within their own half. Martin soon followed, diving over the line with assistance from Scott Sorensen and Lindsay Smith, who displayed exceptional skills in the air to regain possession for the representative forward.
Although Melbourne equalised with an early penalty goal after halftime, Penrith swiftly regained the lead four minutes later. Tago bulldozed his way through the Storm defenders, overpowering Will Warbrick to find the try line.
Unfortunately for the Storm, Tago’s collision with Warbrick resulted in the winger being ruled out for the rest of the match after failing a head injury assessment. Meanwhile, the Panthers‘ center continued to make an impact by orchestrating Zac Hosking‘s try through a well-placed grubber kick.
Melbourne’s hopes of a comeback were dashed by an error from Meaney early in the second half, reflecting a night where the home side seemed to lack momentum and were outplayed by the Panthers.
Jarome Luai‘s agile footwork, which constantly posed a threat to Melbourne, proved instrumental in Penrith’s sixth try of the evening. Luai set up a kick for Brian To’o, who touched down next to the posts, securing a rare away victory for the Panthers in Victoria.