NRL Friday: Penrith lose opening game, Cronulla win at the Warriors

Aaron Bower
Ivan Cleary

Reigning NRL champions Penrith Panthers were not only beaten, but kept scoreless in their opening match of the 2024 season after slumping to defeat at Melbourne Storm.

The Panthers, who were beaten by Super League champions Wigan Warriors in last month’s World Club Challenge, had a plethora of opportunities to score enough points to win at AAMI Park but they were denied time and time again by a spirited effort from the Storm, who registered victory on the opening weekend.

A remarkable contest had just one try all evening, with the score only 2-0 in favour of the Storm at half-time. Nick Meaney’s penalty nudged Melbourne ahead inside the opening ten minutes but that was the only scoring action of the entire half, despite an audacious two-point field goal attempt from the Panthers on the stroke of half-time.

However, nine minutes after the restart, the Storm extended their lead with the night’s first – and only – try as Reimis Smith touched down, and Meaney converted to open up a two-score lead.

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The final quarter was spent predominantly in Melbourne territory, but the hosts repeatedly denied the Panthers whenever they were in prime attacking opportunity to keep them scoreless and start their own season with victory.

Friday’s other game saw Cronulla begin their 2024 campaign with a win at the Warriors. Addin Fonua-Blake and Luke Metcalf’s tries put the Warriors into an early 12-0 lead, but the Sharks responded superbly.

Jesse Ramien’s try reduced the arrears shortly before half-time, and Ronaldo Mulitalo’s score a minute into the second half then made it 12-10.

And the Sharks ultimately won it with Siosifa Talakai’s try just before the hour mark, holding on in the closing stages to secure a victory in the opening weekend.

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