Smith makes history as Storm march on, Maloney snatches Sharks win

By Peter Thompson 1 April 2017 80
Smith makes history as Storm march on, Maloney snatches Sharks win

Cameron Smith made history as Melbourne Storm made it five NRL wins out of five with a 28-6 victory over Penrith Panthers after James Maloney's late drop goal ensured Cronulla Sharks saw off Newcastle Knights.

Penrith had plenty of possession at AAMI Park on Saturday but the Storm were heroic in defence and clinical in attack to maintain their perfect record, ensuring captain Smith surpassed Darren Lockyer's record with a 238th career win.

Craig Bellamy's men were put under immense pressure, yet denied the Panthers time after time and outscored them by five tries - two of which were scored by Suliasi Vunivalu - to one to go two points clear at the top of the ladder.

The leaders held a 10-6 half-time advantage after Will Chambers flicked a pass to wing Vunivalu, who scored the opening try and Chambers claimed one of his own before Te Maire Martin's converted score got the Panthers on the board.

Penrith were caught out just after the break when Dale Finucane broke through and Cooper Cronk applied the finish and the visitors' frustration mounted as both Moses Leota and Martin lost possession when they reached out to try and dot down.

Melbourne spent much of the second half on the back foot, but repelled the visitors with stoic defending and Josh Addo-Carr showed an electric turn of foot to dart away for a fourth Storm try.

Vunivalu put the icing on the cake right at the end, with record-breaking captain Smith converting to take his tally with the boot to eight points as the Storm sent another message to their rivals.

Cronulla have now won three in a row, but the defending premiers needed a 78th-minute drop goal from five-eighth Maloney to defeat the Knights 19-18 at  Southern Cross Group Stadium.

The Sharks were 18-6 up with just 12 minutes to play following tries from Gerard Beale, Sosaia Feki and Valentine Holmes, but the struggling Knights came storming back with quickfire scores from Brendan Elliot and Jacob Gagan, only for Maloney to snatch it.

Meanwhile, Nick Cotric came up with a superb solo try and Jarrod Croker scored 14 points as Canberra Raiders downed Parramatta Eels 30-18.

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Peter Thompson

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