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Storm beat Penrith, alone atop NRL ladder

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/04/2017 Melissa Woods
Moses Leota of the Panthers (bottom) tackled by Cameron Smith of the Storm during the match. © AAP Image/Julian Smith Moses Leota of the Panthers (bottom) tackled by Cameron Smith of the Storm during the match.

Melbourne are flying solo at the top of the NRL ladder after maintaining their unbeaten start with a hard-fought 28-6 win over Penrith.

With the Sydney Roosters falling to Manly on Friday night for their first loss of the season, the Storm are the only team yet to to taste defeat in 2017.

Despite the comfortable margin, they were made to work for it against the Panthers at AAMI Park.

Melbourne got off to a blazing start and Penrith looked a little stunned as the home side raced to a 10-0 lead.

Will Chambers pushed his case for Queensland Origin selection when he set up the first try with a sweet backhand flick pass to winger Suli Vunivalu, who was a late inclusion after overcoming a shoulder injury.

Chambers then got one of his own after some quick hands across the Storm backline with Cooper Cronk finding his man.

Storm players react after Cooper Cronk scored a try during the Round 5 NRL match. © AAP Image/Julian Smith Storm players react after Cooper Cronk scored a try during the Round 5 NRL match.

But the Panthers sparked to life and dominated the last 20 minutes of the first half, crossing through five-eighth Te Maire Martin before Waqa Blake was held up over the line.

A converted Cronk try two minutes after halftime pushed the lead out to 14-6 and then the Panthers blew a golden opportunity to put some scoreboard pressure on the Storm when Moses Leota lost the ball over the tryline.

The Panthers dominated possession and territory and kept hammering Melbourne's tryline, but the Storm backed their position as the competition's best defence and held firm.

The bunker denied Martin a second try as he spilt the ball just short of the line and then Melbourne put the result out of doubt when speedster Josh Addo-Carr dashed 70 metres for the home side's fourth of the night.

Vunivalu, who was the competition's top tryscorer last season, then iced the win when he crashed over for his second just before the fulltime hooter.

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