Storm blow away Panthers, 40-6 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm blow away Panthers, 40-6

By Steve Jancetic 25/08/2008 10:07:51 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne's march to a third straight NRL minor premiership rolled straight over the top of Penrith with the Storm cruising to a 40-6 win over the Panthers at CUA Stadium.

The eight tries to one win reopened the Storm's two-point gap at the top of the standings, but it was the ease with which the win was achieved that would have sounded the greatest alarm bell for their premiership rivals.

It could be argued the Melbourne players expelled more energy in getting to Penrith than they did in delivering their 80-minute demolition, which never looked in doubt once Steve Turner crossed for his first of the night after ten minutes.

From there it was a procession as a Greg Inglis hattrick outdid Turner's double, the Panthers doing themselves no favours as they blew an opportunity to move back into top eight.

A late hit by veteran hooker Luke Priddis on Cooper Cronk handed the Storm a piggyback upfield from where Anthony Quinn scored a couple of tackles later, while Inglis' second gave them a convincing 20-0 halftime lead.

A Nathan Smith try six minutes after the break was the only joy for the Panthers, but it took just three minutes for the Storm to reply with Israel Folau magnificently getting a ball away for Turner to score his second.

A penalty while in possession of the ball against fullback Rhys Wesser just after the hour continued a horrid night for the home side, skipper Cameron Smith going through pitiful defence shortly thereafter to make it 28-6 just after the hour.

It left the Panthers needing to win their remaining two matches and hope other results go their way if they are to secure a top eight finish.

The drama wasn't only on the field for the Panthers with Fox Sports claiming backrower Frank Pritchard had to be convinced to go back onto the field after suffering a recurrence of a shoulder injury.

Melbourne meanwhile could nail down the minor premiership with one game in hand should they beat Newcastle on Saturday night and Manly and Cronulla both lose this weekend.

Panthers coach Matt Elliott denied there was anything sinister behind Pritchard's non appearance for the second half, the under siege mentor saying the Kiwi international was only going to be used in an emergency.

Pritchard has been at the centre of reports claiming he is unhappy at the Panthers and wanted out despite having another year to run on his contract.

"Physically he wasn't right to go," Elliott said.

"If he went back onto field he was only going to let someone down.

"We didn't expect to see him back after halftime ... he was going to fill a hole but to send him out there half-busted when really the game wasn't on the line would have been an unintelligent thing (to do) as a coach.

"To suggest the guy wasn't going to go back on the field because he was feigning injury is taking it just a tad too far."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy admitted finishing the regular season in first spot was a definite goal for his side, but rejected claims his side already had one hand on the premiership trophy.

"My reaction is that's all crap - there's a lot of good teams in this competition," he said.

"We just need to get about our business and (if) we start believing in that, well we ain't going to be doing what we need to do.

"We'd be proud to hold that (the minor premiership) again but we've still got two games to go and we could still finish second or third."

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