The Panthers bounced back from their first loss of the season to down a brave but undermanned Storm outfit 32-6 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The clash of the co-competition leaders had been billed as the match of the season but Melbourne lost Kiwis halfback Jahrome Hughes before kick off with a calf injury.
With star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen and strike centre Reimis Smith already out their attack was stifled.
Rookies Cooper Johns and Tyran Wishart were called up to replace Hughes and Papenhuyzen, but the sons of former Kangaroos, Matt Johns and Rod Wishart, had a tough night as Penrith roared to their ninth win of the season.
Cameron Munster did his best to spark the Storm but the superstar five-eighth was unable to prevent the Panthers recording their biggest win in 25 years of matches between the two clubs.
Penrith were without coach Ivan Cleary for the second week in a row for medical reasons and he maintained contact with assistants Cameron Ciraldo and Andrew Webster during the match, but had little to do.
So dominant were the Panthers that they were able to rest Jarome Luai and Isaah Yeo late in the second half.
Match: Storm v Panthers
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- The Panthers quickly put last week's 22-20 loss to Parramatta behind them when Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo combined before Jarome Luai put centre Izack Tago over with an inside ball in the sixth minute.
- When Fiji strike forward Viliame Kikau soared above Marion Seve to latch onto a Cleary cross-field kick to score in the 10th minute, the premiers were scoring in better than even time.
Fantastic Fijian Kikau takes flight
- The Storm had been starved of possession but star five-eighth Cameron Munster managed to get them back in the game in the 18th minute when he followed up a one-on-one steal with a perfectly placed cross-field kick for an unmarked Nick Meaney to score.
Magic Munster finds Meaney in the corner
- Munster then came up with another big play for his side when he held up Stephen Crichton over the tryline five minutes before halftime but a high tackle by Meaney on Dylan Edwards enabled Cleary to kick a penalty goal.
- Tago's second try just two minutes later after Melbourne fullback Tyran Wishart spilled a Luia bomb proved to be a hammer blow to the Storm as they went to the break trailing 20-6.
Tago jumps on Wishart error for second
- Luai then scored a try of his own in the 55th minute after Cleary found Kikau with a short pass and the star second-rower managed to get an offload away to the NSW and Samoa five-eighth.
- A 62nd minute Crichton try threatened to see the scoreline get ugly for Melbourne but they never gave in and Penrith did not score again.
Panthers find space and Crichton finds the line
Play of the game
The weather was appalling but the Panthers weren't afraid to play enterprising football and they quickly put an undermanned Storm outfit on the back foot when their three main playmakers Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo and Jarome Luai combined for Izack Tago's first try in just the sixth minute.
Tago opens the scoring in mammoth clash
What they said
"It didn't get any better from the start to be honest. They just strangled us for the second half. We had a couple of guys out but the guys that come in, you expect them to do a job. It's probably a game we needed after three or four weeks where we've won really well. With all due respect it was a good come down tonight. Perhaps we haven't been going as well as people have thought." - Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
Storm: Round 10
"It wasn't a normal week and could've been a distraction if we wanted it to be. Ivan was missing and really wanted to fly up. I thought they were really good. I thought Nathan controlled the game, particularly in the second half. Both teams will be better the next time we play each other." - Panthers assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo.
Panthers: Round 10
The Storm travel to North Queensland to play the in-form Cowboys next Saturday, while the Panthers take on Sydney Roosters at the SCG later the same night.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy will be hoping to have Kiwis halfback Jahrome Hughes back on deck after he was a late withdrawal against Penrith with a calf injury.
Winger Xavier Coates battled a groin injury during the second half, while Nick Meaney was placed on report for a high shot on Dylan Edwards.
Prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona was in a knee brace after the game.
Panthers coach Nathan Cleary will be hoping to be back on deck next week after being forced to watch the past two matches remotely due to medical reasons.