HEAD TO HEAD | Melbourne Storm

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41 matches [1998-2022]

12 wins, 28 losses

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_melbourne.htm

The Panthers history with the men in purple from the Victorian capital is one of the briefest, however, that is in no implying that it has not had the occasional memorable moment or two.

The first match was on ANZAC Day 1998 at Olympic Park, where the new boys prevailed 22-14. The following year, at the same venue, the Storm registered an even bigger win, to the tune of 32-10.

In 2000, the Panthers finally turned the tables, registering wins in both encounters (30-22 at Penrith in Round 4, and 23-20 in Melbourne in Round 17).

Between 2001 and 2004, the Panthers were only able to register 2 victories in 8 matches – a commanding 36-16 win at Penrith in 2002 and a 30-20 win at the same venue in 2004. Two of the Melbourne victories in this run were significant moments – their 32-12 win at Penrith in 2003 snapped a then club record 8 match winning streak for the Panthers, whilst the 66-14 annihilation at Olympic Park in 2004 is still to date the heaviest defeat inflicted on a team defending the premiership.

2005, just like 2000, saw the Panthers get the premiership points on both occasions – a repeat of their 2002 showing at Penrith with a 36-16 win (still their biggest win over Melbourne), and then later winning for only the second time in Melbourne. Penrith overcame an 8-4 half time deficit to run over Melbourne in the second half to run out 28-14 winners.

Melbourne asserted complete dominance over Penrith from 2006 to 2012, wit the Storm winning 11 straight. The first of these matches was at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide in 2006, a Penrith home match whilst upgrading works were occurring at Penrith Stadium. The Storm would record a 40-18 victory.

The Panthers got close on a few occasions during this streak – the closest was a 17-16 loss in golden point in May 2006. Another match at Olympic Park early in the 2009 season could have seen Penrith go back north with the 2 points, but a number of contentious decisions saw Melbourne cling on for a 16-14 win.

In 2013, the two teams met just the once – but Penrith finally snapped the streak, recording a stirring 12-10 win at Centrebet Stadium in Round 9. The Panthers led 12-0 at half time, with three unconverted tries, and managed to hold out a resurgent Storm outfit in the second half. It was the brightest moment in a season that did not yield a top 8 finish but showed plenty of potential after a lean previous two seasons.

However, this was merely a blip on the radar, with the Storm winning the next six from 2014 to 2018.

Once again, there were some close encounters – the closest the Panthers would get in that time was at AAMI Park early in the 2014 season. The Storm squeaked home by one point – although the visitors had a chance to win by one themselves with a penalty conversion on the stroke of full time, but it sailed wide.

Melbourne’s dominance over the next five games is best typified by their average 23 point wins, including a horror double meeting in 2015, with a 20-0 loss at Penrith and later a 52-10 thrashing in Melbourne.

In the final premiership round of the 2018 season, the Panthers snapped their 13 year long hoodoo in Melbourne with a dramatic 22-16 win at AAMI Park. The visitors overcame a 10-6 deficit at half time to lead 22-10 deep in the second half. A Melbourne try with only five minutes remaining set up a potentially thrilling finish, but the Panthers shut down a couple of try scoring opportunities to hold on for the drought breaking victory.

The decade finished with yet another Melbourne victory, with a 32-2 win in Bathurst.

The next meeting was at Campbelltown in June 2020 – soon after the resumption of the season after the COVID pandemic shut it down in March, the Panthers were the hosts in neutral territory. On a cold evening and a hard frosty surface, the Panthers ground out a well-deserved 21-14 victory.

At the time, it was just the third win in nineteen meetings going back to 2006.

However, in the broader context of the season, it was the first win of a streak that saw them remain undefeated for the remainder of the premiership season (15 in a row and crowned minor premiers), which was further extended to 17 in the finals series, with a win seeing Penrith qualify for their first grand final in 2003.

Their opponents would be Melbourne – they were a far more seasoned outfit when it came to grand finals, having made 8 since 1999, with their previous appearance being in 2018.

At ANZ Stadium, where the capacity was capped at half as a response to COVID protocols, the minor premiers had a horror first half, and were down 20-0 at half time. This was further extended to 26-0 just minutes into the second half. Much to the Panthers credit, they staged a spirited comeback and a try with less than a minute remaining made it 26-20. However, the Panthers were not able to stage the miracle finish, and fell agonisingly short.

The much awaited grand final rematch was in Round 3 of the 2021 season at BlueBet Stadium. In a match befitting of the top two teams from the previous year, Penrith trailed 10-6 with only minutes remaining. A converted try from Kurt Capewell saw the home team edge ahead 12-10. As the full time siren sounded, the Storm were able to get the ball across the line, however, forward Viliame Kikau was somehow able to hold the ball up, and the Panthers hung on for a two point win.

Later in the season, soon after the whole competition was relocated to Brisbane, the much awaited rematch was robbed of its lustre when a weakened Penrith team meekly went down to Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, going down 37-10.

However, just like the previous season the two teams finished one and two on the ladder (although Melbourne were crowned the minor premiers).

A Panthers loss in week 1 of the finals meant that both teams met one week earlier than anticipated in the preliminary final. Penrith led 10-0 early in the second half, and whilst the Storm pegged it back to 10-6, the Panthers were able to exact revenge from 2020 to qualify for their second straight grand final.

A new rivalry had emerged, and hence were drawn to meet twice during the regular season. They were the headline act during the Magic Round, with Penrith stealing the show with a commanding 32-6 win at Suncorp Stadium – whilst the disclaimer was Melbourne were weakened, the 26 point margin did make it the biggest win over Melbourne. Later in the season, the Storm inflicted what would have been only one of four losses for the season, with a 16-0 shut out at BlueBet Stadium – once again, it was this time over a weakened Penrith team and was the first time they had been held scoreless since their 20-0 loss versus the same opponent in 2015.

Last updated 13 December 2022

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