Last Time Played: Solid Storm victory

The Storm defeated the Panthers 26-6 at AAMI Park in Round 22 last year.

Penrith shocked the local fans early when Adrian Purtell powered across in the right corner in the sixth minute although their anxiety was wiped when Ryan Hinchcliffe latched onto an inside pass from Cooper Cronk to square things up at 6-all with 15 minutes gone.

Solid defence by the Panthers (just 12 missed tackles) saw the teams head to halftime with no addition to the scoreline.

A penalty goal shortly after the break edged the Storm ahead before a trio of tries to Sika Manu, Billy Slater and Kevin Proctor propelled the home side to its winning total with eight minutes remaining.

Slater’s was the try that broke the Panthers’ spirit. Well in the contest at the 65-minute mark, they buckled when the Storm fullback leapt high to catch a perfectly directed Gareth Widdop centre-field kick near the goal posts, then jinked past opposite number David Simmons to score.

The Storm laid the foundation for their win with solid first-half defence: the Panthers breached their defensive line four times and forced them to make 30 tackles more.

Penrith unravelled after halftime, missing 28 tackles alone in the second 40 minutes.

The Storm were best served by Widdop, Slater and Cronk who each made try assists, while Simmons was the Panthers’ best with a game-high 178 metres and three offloads.