Melbourne end five game losing streak
Melbourne have ended a five game losing streak, defeating Penrith 46-6 at AAMI Park in front of a crowd of 9,223 on Saturday afternoon.by NRL
Melbourne have ended a five game losing streak, defeating Penrith 46-6 at AAMI Park in front of a crowd of 9,223 on Saturday afternoon. Storm returned to form in style, piling on 34 first half points to put the game beyond doubt following the first 40 minutes of play.
Cooper Cronk, Justin O'Neill and Sisa Waqa all finished the match with doubles as the visitors left AAMI Park looking for answers following Melbourne's return to form.
Under pressure coming into the match, Craig Bellamy's side got off to the best start imaginable. Sisa Waqa crossed the try-line inside the first minute of play to give his side a dream start. Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith were all involved in the opening set of the afternoon and the reliable combination proved decisive.
Waqa's try and Melbourne's start to the match set the tone for the rest of the afternoon as the Panthers struggled to cope with a revived Melbourne defence. The visitors were stuck on zero points until the 71st minute of play as Storm controlled the match and possession from the outset. The home side denied the 15th placed Panthers any time or opportunity to work their way into the contest.
Following Waqa's early try, which sent the home crowd into raptures, Melbourne knuckled down and got to work, displaying clinical execution which had been lacking over the previous month.
Storm backed up their opening try with repeat sets to pile the pressure on the 15th placed Panthers. Cronk's 40/20, followed by a goal line drop out thanks to some energetic defensive work pushed Ivan Cleary's side deep into defence.
After absorbing Penrith's first sustained period of possession, Melbourne hit back in the best possible way. Cooper Cronk came up with his fifth try of 2012 as Melbourne doubled their advantage. Smith and Slater were again instrumental in the build up as the Melbourne attack displayed a true cutting edge.
Jesse Bromwich barged over the try line to continue the home side's dominance whilst Sisa Waqa managed to find his second try of the afternoon thanks to some quick thinking from Billy Slater out of dummy half.
Returning from a groin injury, O'Neill extended Melbourne's advantage heading into the main break after an acrobatic leap over Panther debutant Travis Robinson. There was more to come from Melbourne in the first half however as Cronk managed to find the try line again to see his side take a 34-0 lead into half time.
The Panthers offered a better performance in the second stanza, tightening up their defence and making it more difficult for Storm to find gaps as they did during the first period.
Craig Bellamy's side still managed to score two tries and extend their half-time lead during the second half. Matt Robinson's try after 71 minutes opened Penrith's account for the afternoon but it was small consolation for the visitors.
Sika Manu finished the day just as it started - with a Storm try. Manu's last minute try put the icing on top of a Melbourne.
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