Storm v Panthers: Five key points
The Melbourne Storm celebrated Cam Smith's 300th game in style, turning round a four game losing streak to smash the Panthers 52-10 at AAMI Park. Here are five things we learned from the encounter.
Slippery halves panthers
The Storm made no secret of their plan to go after the Penrith halves on Friday night and it paid dividends. Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace missed a combined 13 tackles between them, the Storm side missed just 14 all up. It is a glaring issue for Ivan Cleary as the pair missed 12 tackles the previous week against the Roosters. They haven't been the only culprits though with the side missing 90 tackles over the past fortnight and they rank second last in the competition, it is a worrying trend for the Panthers.
It was another impotent night in attack for Penrith who mustered just two tries on the night. It is the ninth time in 17 games this season that the Panthers have failed to score more than 12 points in a game. They also committed 12 errors and did not complete a set until the 13th minute. Waqa Blake scored their first try on the hour mark and Tyron Peachey crossed shortly after in what was their only meaningful five minutes of the match. Their cause certainly was not helped prior to the match with Dallin Watene Zelezniak, David Simmons and Sika Manu all pulling out of the side.
Some Marika Magic, Yet again
When a team scores 10 tries from seven different try scorers you can bet there will be highlights a plenty. Unsurprisingly, it was the human highlight reel Marika Koroibete who stole the show with a first half try that was up there with his already impressive efforts this season. The Fijian caught a Jamie Soward high ball, landed like a cat then set on a 95 metre run down the AAMI Park sideline to score, even throwing in a stiff arm on Will Smith for good measure. His double on Friday night takes his season tally to 11 and counting with no telling what other tricks the winger could pull out before the year is out.
Storm rediscover their attack
During their four game winless run Melbourne had been left to lament their dismal attack that had produced an average of just 13 points per game during that stretch. However on Friday night they rediscovered their mojo in no uncertain terms. The Storm ran in 10 tries through seven different try scorers. Following last week's loss to the Warriors Cameron Smith lamented a lack of bodies willing to put their hand up at the attacking end but he was left a much happier man after his 300th game.
"[Our attack] is something we addressed after the Warriors game, we sat down and believed that not everyone was fully committed to the game plan and what we were trying to do out there with the football," Smith said.
"It is no secret we haven't scored a lot of points over the last month but I think tonight you saw a committed football team when we had the football in our hands.
"Guys were back to running hard like we were at the start of the year and our support was fantastic," Smith said.
Cronk puts on a clinic then puts the knee on ice
You would be forgiven for thinking Cooper Cronk brought his own footy for the first half on Friday night. The star halfback had two tries, two assists, a line break and a 40-20 kick all inside the opening 40 minutes. However it was also in that time that Cronk appeared to slip trying to receive a kickoff and got up gingerly on his troublesome knee. It was just Cronk's second game back from the knee injury that sidelined him for three games. Given they lost all three of those games the Storm will be praying Friday night was just a scare as there is no denying his teammates seem to grow another leg when Cronk pulls on the No.7.