‘Dangerous’ Panther explodes after quiet month in record-breaking win over Storm — 3 Big Hits

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Andrew Jackson from Fox Sports

The Penrith Panthers have made a brutal statement on Saturday evening, demolishing the undermanned Melbourne Storm 32-6 at Suncorp Stadium.

It was Penrith’s biggest win over Melbourne, with its previous largest victory coming in 2002 and 2005 (20 points).

With Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jahrome Hughes and Reimis Smith sidelined, Melbourne was already up against it heading into the battle of the heavyweights.

It meant it was only more important Penrith took full advantage after a surprise last-start defeat at the hands of Parramatta.

Round 12
*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
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*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
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*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
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*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 29th May 2022, 8:56pm AEST
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And the Panthers pounced early, running in two tries to take an early 12-0 lead.

For the first try, Nathan Cleary dug into the line and linked with Isaah Yeo who went to Jarome Luai and the Panthers five-eighth played it beautifully.

He held up the pass, dragging Melbourne’s right-edge defence along with him and put Izack Tago through a gaping hole.

Then, only a few minutes later, Cleary kicked for a leaping Viliame Kikau who came down with it to score.

The Storm eventually hit back after Cameron Munster came up with two big plays. First, he stripped the ball in a one-on-one tackle with Izack Tago.

Then, after a Harry Grant run and offload, Munster spotted Brian To’o up and in, kicking over the top for Nick Meaney to score.

Melbourne was able to turn the game into an arm wrestle for the next 20 minutes before a high tackle from Meaney saw Penrith earn a penalty and Cleary slotted the goal to make it 14-6.

The Panthers went on to score the next three tries of the night though, strangling the Storm out of the contest.

The first came after young fill-in fullback Tyran Wishart fumbled a Luai kick, with Tago pouncing for his second of the night.

Kikau then stormed through a hole in the second half to offload and put Luai over, with the final try seeing Crichton score off a well-worked left-edge raid.

Read on for foxsports.com.au’s ‘3 Big Hits’ from Saturday’s game:

‘HE’S A LONE SOLDIER’: MUNSTER STANDS TALL IN DEFEAT

With Ryan Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes sidelined, one big question hung over Melbourne heading into Saturday night’s blockbuster.

Who would stand up in the big moments?

Well, Cameron Munster is made for those big moments and the Melbourne five-eighth proved it once again at Suncorp Stadium, even in defeat.

Munster came up big with and without the ball in hand in the opening half, first stripping the ball in a one-on-one tackle on Izack Tago before setting up Nick Meaney for Melbourne’s first try.

On that occasion, Brian To’o had come in from his wing and Munster showed the footy smarts to put boot to ball immediately.

Cameron Munster stood tall in the first half. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“You are witnessing something special,” Dan Ginanne said in commentary for Fox League.

“Watch the genius of Cameron Munster. Brilliant play,” Michael Ennis added while Benji Marshall called him a “freak”.

“It’s always the question of who is going to take over when they need something special and Cameron Munster delivers on that occasion,” Marshall added.

Munster was also making an impact in defence, coming up with a desperate try-saving effort on Stephen Crichton in the later stages of the first half.

“He’s been terrific,” Corey Parker said of Munster on Fox League.

“He’s been doing absolutely everything. He’s a lone soldier at the moment.”

‘DANGEROUS’ LUAI EXPLODES AFTER QUIET MONTH

While the Panthers have been in brilliant fashion to open their premiership defence, Jarome Luai has at times been a bit quiet, even in victory.

Luai had not recorded a single try assist or linebreak assist in four weeks before Saturday’s game but it was clear early on against Melbourne that the 25-year-old was ready for a breakout game.

“He looks in a dangerous mood tonight running the football,” Marshall said of Luai.

And the Panthers and NSW State of Origin five-eighth was only just getting started, finishing the game with two try-assists, a linebreak assist and a try in an electric display.

Jarome Luai starred in the win. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

While Penrith has the luxury of passing it to either Nathan Cleary or Isaah Yeo in attacking territory as two dangerous ball-handlers, Luai has a habit of drifting in and out of games.

On Saturday though, he was actively seeking out the ball in a much-improved display.

“What a night he’s had from the outset,” Marshall said in the second half.

“Jarome Luai, running the football and injecting himself [into the game].”

GRANT ‘SHUT OUT’ AS STORM ‘STRANGLED INTO SUBMISSION’

Outside of Munster, the Storm did not have many other standouts with Harry Grant even struggling to make his mark on the contest.

Grant exploded for 156 run metres, four tackle busts, four linebreak assists and two try assists in last week’s 42-6 win over the Dragons.

He had 119 touches of the footy on that occasion but this time around Grant was starved of possession and was playing behind a Melbourne pack that was completely dominated.

“Grant has been completely shut out of the contest,” Michael Ennis said in commentary.

Grant instead was turned into a tackling bag as the Panthers went on with the job in relentless fashion in the second half.

Harry Grant was well-contained. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“They are sucking the life out of them,” Ennis said.

“Melbourne just can’t get out of their own half.”

“Obviously they are missing key players but the Panthers have absolutely strangled the Storm into submission,” Benji Marshall added.

While Papenhuyzen may be missing for a while longer, Melbourne will be hoping Jahrome Hughes’ calf injury is not too serious, with the halfback’s kicking game sorely missed on Saturday.

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