A dejected Peter Wallace missed a difficult penalty shot after the siren that would've won Penrith the game. Copyright: NRL Photos/Brett Crockford.

No consolation in defeat for rising Panthers

Penrith pushed the Storm about as far as anyone could last Saturday, forcing the trinity of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater to delve into the deepest pocket of their bag of tricks to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

It was a brave performance worthy of two premiership points but in the end, it only earned the improving Panthers a legion of new admirers. After all, a heartbreaking one-point loss on the road in Melbourne is a moral victory in almost any NRL team's dictionary.

But not for Kevin Kingston, not Penrith, and certainly not in 2014.

"Last year we would've been satisfied with that [performance]," the Panthers co-captain said on Tuesday.

"But this year, just seeing the boys after the game, they were pretty down. Their heads were down. They were pretty upset with the loss."

Without zippy five-eighth Jamie Soward and figurehead prop Tim Grant on Saturday, the Panthers led the Storm by two points midway through the second half and had Storm No.1 Billy Slater in the sin bin.

But clutch plays from both Cronk – who nailed two field goals – and Smith – who deliberately grubbered a kick off into touch in the closing minutes to set up his halfback's second one-pointer - delivered Melbourne their second one-point win in as many weeks and thwarted Penrith's hopes of stealing what would've been an impressive road victory.

It was the kind of effort Kingston said the Panthers had identified as their benchmark, the kind of performance expected from a team on the rise: to be able to compete with the top four teams.

"We were pretty disappointed after the game, just with the result, not so much the effort. It's good to compete with the top four teams," Kingston said.

"All week I was confident. In the game I was confident. But it doesn't matter how you play [anymore]. You've got to get the points.

"The time for talk and things like improving ... obviously you want to keep improving, but we've got to start getting results."

The next challenge will be to make good on their promise not to lose back-to-back games this year, a quality centre Dean Whare pointed out was the difference between premiership contenders and pretenders.

"We don't want to lose two games in a row," he said.

"We're really excited about this week and it should be a good challenge. The Bulldogs had a good win [on Monday], we're very wary of that and looking to hopefully get a win over them.

"Every team's in it to win it. Those first couple of rounds separate the top eight and the bottom eight. So it's very important for us to get the win this week.

"[We're] definitely not happy with losing, especially losing to Melbourne down there like that. Probably last year we would've seen it more of a positive sign, going down to Melbourne by one point down there.

"But things have changed this year now. We want to win every game, and hopefully we can make it into the top eight."