Storm show premiership credentials

On a weekend when the premiership heavyweights faltered, the Melbourne Storm have announced themselves as genuine contenders with a 24-10 win against the in-form Panthers.

Having showed incredible resilience and spirit to win their past three games against the Bulldogs, Dragons and Cowboys, the Panthers couldn't continue their recent efforts with their backs to the wall at Sportingbet Stadium.

It was an ominous sign for the Panthers when some dark clouds rolled over the foot of the mountains just a few hours before kick-off, but the major Storm threat was yet to come.

Craig Bellamy's men burst the bubble of the Panthers, ending their three-game winning streak and their hopes of a minor premiership after Manly and South Sydney left the door ajar with respective losses over the weekend.

The Storm came into the game in equal sixth position on 28 points alongside the Eels and Cowboys, just two points clear of the Warriors, Broncos and Dragons.

A loss could have put their semi-final ambitions in jeopardy with games against the Roosters and Broncos to close out the season, but they were far too clinical for a Panthers team lacking some spark in attack without their hooker James Segeyaro.

The Panthers No.9 missed the clash after the death of his father, former Papua New Guinea international Iffysoe Segeyaro.

It is unclear when Segeyaro will return to training, the hooker having flown to Papua New Guinea when his father took ill with an aneurism, but it is understood he should be back in time for Sunday's clash with Manly at Brookvale Oval.

Just as it looked like Penrith would finish in the top four, Monday night's loss places a heavy importance on their showdown with the Sea Eagles, given they could bow out of the top four if they fail to overcome a Manly team coming off a loss against Parramatta.

Jamie Soward has been in sublime form in recent weeks but the Storm did their homework on the Penrith No.7, shutting down all his options in attack.

The first points came against the run of play, with Melbourne winger Marika Koroibete intercepting a Will Smith pass to run 90 metres and give his side a 6-0 lead after 17 minutes.

The Panthers had plenty of ball in the first half but it wasn't until the 34th minute that the Panthers were finally able to crack the Storm defence, as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dived over out wide to equalise.

But as the half-time siren sounded, the Storm hit back through a cross-field kick from Cooper Cronk that allowed Sisa Waqa to tap it back to an unmarked Will Chambers.

A contentious penalty against Penrith for a hand in the ruck gifted the Storm a penalty from right in front of the posts, with Cameron Smith extending their lead to 12-6.

Then, after a series of penalties and mistakes from the Panthers, the Storm managed to break their opposition when Ben Roberts danced his way past Kevin Kingston to carry a couple of defenders over the line.

Penrith lock Adam Docker was placed on report for a high shot on Tim Glasby, while Jeremy Latimore will also come under scrutiny from the match review committee for a crusher tackle on Bryan Norrie.

Then, to round out a horror 12-minute period for the Panthers, Waqa and Billy Slater combined to send the fullback in untouched for a 24-6 lead in the 64th minute.

The Panthers managed to reduce the deficit late in the match when Jamal Idris crashed over from close range, but it was to no avail as the Storm left with two points in the bag.

This story Storm show premiership credentials first appeared on Brisbane Times.