Melbourne v Penrith – Review
Melbourne celebrated millstone games for Cameron Smith and Billy Slater with their second consecutive one-point win, 18-17 over Penrith at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
On what was a wet and stormy night, Smith was playing a club-record 263rd game, surpassing Matt Geyer for the mark. Slater, who is currently third on that list, was playing his 250th game.
In a thrilling last ten minutes, when scores were tied 16-16, Cooper Cronk, playing his first match since shoulder surgery, nailed an ugly but effective field goal to put the purple outfit in front.
That was cancelled out by Penrith’s Peter Wallace, and it looked like we might have our second golden point match in a row. But another Cronk drop goal with thirty seconds to go once again put the Storm ahead by a point.
But just as the fans thought it was over, there was another twist in the tale.
Penrith were awarded a penalty with seconds on the clock and the 13,952 in attendance had to hold their breath one last time as Wallace had a chance to kick the go-ahead 2 points which would have spoiled the script.
Wallace failed in his attempt from 42 metres out, well right of the posts and the Storm were finally allowed to rejoice the narrowest of victories.
Earlier on, Penrith had the better of possession and territory in the opening 10 minutes but, against the run of play, it was the returning Cronk who dummied inside before assisting Proctor to open the scoring.
Although Smith missed the conversion, he cleverly produced a perfect kick in the in-goal to force a goal-line drop-out. From the ensuing play, Slater linked with centre Mahe Fonua to score.
Kevin Naiqama got Penrith on the board in the 26th minute, scoring in the right corner after some overlap play by Wallace and Jamal Idris.
Opposing wingers Sisa Waqa and Naiqama traded tries in the last 10 minutes of the half. And when Smith converted a penalty, Melbourne went into the interval with a 14-10 advantage.
Three minutes after the break, Josh Mansour scored the first and only try of the second half.
Penrith remain winless in Melbourne since 2005.