Melbourne defensive masterclass sees Panthers nilled at home




Melbourne put on a defensive masterclass to nil Penrith, turning them away time and again to secure a vital 16-0 win that keeps the Storm well in the hunt for the top four.

The Panthers accumulated set after set in good ball, but failed to make inroads: they had over 50 tackles in the Storm red zone for zero tries off a 60/40 possession split. They threw everything, but left with nothing.

Though the Panthers were missing several through suspension and injury, this was nevertheless the best performance the Storm have put in for a long time. Not since beating the Roosters at the SCG in early June have Bellamy’s men looked so effective.

Their defence was outstanding. It was classic Storm, with central line speed forcing the Panthers wide and then scrambling fast to squeeze the space.

Though Nick Meaney returned to the team, he unexpectedly lined up at five eighth with Cameron Musnter maintained at fullback. For all Munster’s excellence in attack, his ability to sweep up kicks, organise the men in front of him and lead from the back was to the fore tonight.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona, too, was superb. The Kiwi began the night as a front-rower, but shifted to an edge and ended up pumping out 66 minutes – 50% up on his usual shift – with 17 runs and 23 tackles.

Penrith have been imperious this year, especially at home, but any side missing as many key players are they are is likely to struggle.

Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai are out until the finals and the Panthers will have time to adapt, but the loss of two of their set starters, Dylan Edwards and Taylan May, as well as their pack leader, James Fisher-Harris, was ultimately insurmountable.

The absentees list got longer still, with back-rower Liam Martin taken off with a rolled ankle and Charlie Staines also leaving early.

Ivan Cleary will not appreciate the nil – though he will respect the Storm defence – and might question his halfbacks for next week’s clash with Souths. Jaeman Salmon and Sean O’Sullivan posed a question that was too easily answered.

Api Koroisau and Isaah Yeo were at their usual best, and the Panthers still won the yardage battle by over 300m, but they couldn’t create all the play on their own.

The first fifteen minutes was a finals preview, with some of the most grinding footy seen all year. There were two errors – in consecutive plays – but aside from that, there was barely a stoppage and, after a quarter hour, it began to show.

Koroisau burst the game open through the middle and almost got Izack Tago over, but a superb Munster tackle intervened. Within seconds, the Storm were in at the other end as Justin Olam raced away in his own half, kicked inside and found an onrushing Meaney.

The grind was clearly fatiguing the middle forwards. Brandon Smith, 40m out, was running across the line and spotted Moses Leota slowing. He slipped through the gap, around fullback Staines and over for another.

Penrith didn’t take it lying down. They might have scored off a scrum base play, only for Olam to spectacularly tackle Brian To’o into touch, and moments later, the Panthers thought they had scored via Viliame Kikau, only for the bunker to call a knock on.

Melbourne finished the half stronger. David Nofoaluma grabbed his first try in Storm colours to take the lead to 16-0, and it might have been more.

Xavier Coates nearly pulled off the putdown of the year but failed to hold on, before Munster was shuffled off course en route to another Olam inside kick by Sunia Turuva.

Penrith dominated the opening stages of the second half, generating three sets on the Storm line, but their creativity issues were continuing.

Yeo went close through the middle, Turuva was bundled out on the left, To’o went close on the right and Koroisau went through the middle again, only for Meaney to pull off the trysaver.

The waves kept crashing on the dam, but it didn’t break. With 15 seconds to play, Asofa-Solomona was still putting his body about, stopping Stephen Crichton as he rushed for the corner to save the nil.

function cancelLoginPermissionsPrompt() { document.querySelector("#pm-login-dropdown-options-wrapper__permissions").classList.add('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-register-dropdown-options-wrapper__permissions").classList.add('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-login-dropdown-options-wrapper").classList.remove('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-register-dropdown-options-wrapper").classList.remove('u-d-none'); }

function loginStateSecondChance() { cancelLoginPermissionsPrompt(); FB.login( function(response) {

}, { scope: 'email', auth_type: 'rerequest' } ); }

// This function is called when someone finishes with the Login // Button. See the onlogin handler attached to it in the sample // code below. function checkLoginState() { FB.getLoginStatus(function(response) {

var permissions = null;

FB.api('/me/permissions', { access_token: response.authResponse.accessToken, }, function(response2) { if(response2.data) { permissions = response2.data; } else { permissions = []; }

var emailPermissionGranted = false; for(var x = 0; x < permissions.length; x++) { if(permissions[x].permission === 'email' && permissions[x].status === 'granted') { emailPermissionGranted = true; } }if(emailPermissionGranted) { statusChangeCallback(response); } else { document.querySelector("#pm-login-dropdown-options-wrapper__permissions").classList.remove('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-register-dropdown-options-wrapper__permissions").classList.remove('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-login-dropdown-options-wrapper").classList.add('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-register-dropdown-options-wrapper").classList.add('u-d-none'); }});}); }window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({ appId : 392528701662435, cookie : true, xfbml : true, version : 'v3.3' });FB.AppEvents.logPageView();FB.Event.subscribe('auth.login', function(response) {var permissions = null;FB.api('/me/permissions', { access_token: response.authResponse.accessToken, }, function(response2) { if(response2.data) { permissions = response2.data; } else { permissions = []; }var emailPermissionGranted = false; for(var x = 0; x < permissions.length; x++) { if(permissions[x].permission === 'email' && permissions[x].status === 'granted') { emailPermissionGranted = true; } }if(emailPermissionGranted) { statusChangeCallback(response); } else { document.querySelector("#pm-login-dropdown-options-wrapper__permissions").classList.remove('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-register-dropdown-options-wrapper__permissions").classList.remove('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-login-dropdown-options-wrapper").classList.add('u-d-none'); document.querySelector("#pm-register-dropdown-options-wrapper").classList.add('u-d-none'); }});});};(function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;} js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));



Source link