Storm keep perfect season in tact
Melbourne have kept their perfect record in season 2012 in tact after defeating Penrith 44-10 in front of a crowd 9,517 at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday night.by NRL
Melbourne have kept their perfect record in season 2012 in tact after defeating Penrith 44-10 in front of a crowd 9,517 at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday night.
Four unanswered second half tries from the Storm dampened the home fan's hopes of an upset as Melbourne put together yet another strong second half performance in 2012. Justin O'Neill's hat-trick, defined by two length-of-the-field tries was crucial in the victory which created a new club record of nine straight wins.
Billy Slater's impressive season also continued as the fullback gathered two try-assists along with two line-breaks on the evening in which Storm's second half proved too hot for the Penrith defence to handle.
Not since 2005 have Penrith defeated Storm and after nine minutes on the clock, the result looked to be heading in a similar direction when Matt Duffie opened the scoring after gathering a loose ball knocked away from the grasp of Dane Nielsen.
Duffie's try forced the home-side to play catch up from the get go, a situation many of Melbourne's opponents have found themselves in this season. However the resolute Panthers hit back in a big way when Blake Austin and Luke Lewis combined to send winger and NRL debutant Josh Mansour over the try-line for his first points in first grade.
The home side then hit the lead after capitalising on a deep set of six courtesy of Luke Austin's successful 40-20 attempt. Lachlan Coote sent Etuate Uaisele over the try-line to hand the Panthers a four point lead.
However, it only seemed to sting Storm into action. The Penrith lead was no longer than five minutes old before some quick thinking from Cameron Smith at dummy-half played Cooper Cronk over the try-line.
Ryan Hoffman extended the lead after capitalising on some Matt Duffie acrobatics before Melbourne's 90 metre try on the stroke of half time stunned the home crowd.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the first half, Billy Slater's line-break split the field wide open and Justin O'Neill won the foot race to latch onto the full-back's kick into space as the half time siren blew.
Amazingly, Storm opened the second half scoring as they finished the first with O'Neill replicating his feats of the first half. Pinned back on their try-line, the winger intercepted a stray Penrith pass and strode the length of the field for the second of two spectacular tries.
O'Neill's third try of the evening with ten minutes remaining sealed the winger's hat trick and Storm's ninth consecutive win.
Ryan Hinchcliffe put the icing on the cake and continued his push for Origin selection when he completed a skilful combination created by Cooper Cronk in the dying stages of the match.
Penrith and NSW's Michael Jennings finished the game early with what looked to be a shoulder injury whilst Melbourne exited with a clean bill of health.
Final Score. Melbourne 44 - Penrith 10
Tries: Matt Duffie (9'), Cooper Cronk (23'), Ryan Hoffman (33'), Justin O'Neill (40'), Justin O'Neill (50'), Will Chambers (53'), Justin O'Neill (70'), Ryan Hinchcliffe (77')
Goals: Cameron Smith 5, Gareth Widdop
Tries: Josh Mansour (13'), Etuate Uaisele (16')
Goals: Blake Austin
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