It’s a case of David vs Goliath as the Penrith Panthers take on the Melbourne Storm at Centrebet Stadium this evening. Join us for live scores and commentary from 6.30pm AEST.
The 15-game winning streak is over for reigning premiers the Storm after their round 8 loss to the Raiders, and they’ll be looking to hit back with a vengeance this week against the Panthers.
With Origin looming and key personnel set for taxing rep duties, Craig Bellamy and his charges know every two points are critical in their hunt for the minor premiership.
After going down to the Raiders last week and only narrowly escaping the Warriors the week prior, the Storm will want to make a statement here. Expect high intensity from the get go.
For Penrith’s part, they may train at the foot of the Blue Mountains, but they face an even bigger mountain if they want to topple Melbourne tonight.
Penrith have lost the last 11 installments of this fixture. Even in an era where the Storm have been the dominant NRL force, those are bad stats.
If they are to have a hint of a chance, every player is going to have to be at his absolute best, and more importantly, coach Ivan Cleary is going to have to try something a little different.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no blueprint for beating the Melbourne Storm – teams must play to their own strengths instead of trying to match the Storm at theirs.
Canberra succeeded in doing so last week, using their skilled wide men to great effect and exposing defensive weaknesses on the Storm’s edges.
Isaac John makes his Panthers debut at five-eighth this week, and his halves partnership with Luke Walsh will be the fourth the Panthers have tried this season.
Along with names like Matt Moylan, Travis Robinson, Matt Robinson, Adam Docker and Sam Anderson, there are plenty of relative unknown factors in the Panthers line-up. They will, at the very least, have the element of surprise.
I expect a spirited performance from the Panthers – that’s one area where they haven’t lacked in 2013.
In the end, though, the Storm on a bad day are too good for the Panthers on a good day – and I wouldn’t back Melbourne to have another bad day. They should win this one comfortably.
Can the Panthers pull off the ultimate upset or will Melbourne return to the winner’s circle? Join us for live scores and commentary from 6.30pm AEST, and be sure to let us know your thoughts if you’re following along.