Melbourne’s celebrations were put on ice until Penrith halfback Peter Wallace missed a penalty attempt after fulltime that gave the Storm a 18-17 win in their NRL clash at AAMI Park on Saturday.
The Storm were marking two milestones – skipper Cameron Smith becoming the most-capped player at the club and Billy Slater’s 250th NRL game.
But the Panthers tossed aside the script as they threw everything at the home side.
Cooper Cronk nailed a drop goal with just over 20 seconds remaining that looked like it would seal victory but the gutsy Panthers had other ideas.
From the kick-off, the Storm were penalised for offside but Wallace was unable to kick the goal from 40m out, missing to the right of the posts.
It would have been his side’s first win in Melbourne since 2005.
Penrith took the lead 16-14 midway through the second half when Slater was sent to the sinbin for a professional foul as he interfered in the play-the-ball after a break by James Segeyaro.
The Storm managed to limit the damage and kept the Panthers from adding to the margin.
Smith, who was off-target with three conversion attempts in the first half, levelled at 16-16 with a penalty with 13 minutes remaining to set up a thrilling finale.
Cronk, who missed their golden-point round-one win over Manly following off-season shoulder surgery, nailed a field-goal with five minutes remaining on the clock.
Wallace missed his first attempt but made no mistake with his second in the 79th minute to tie the match up again.
Penrith’s effort was all the most impressive given they were without five-eighth Jamie Soward, who was a late withdrawal with back spasms, with Isaac John his replacement.
The Panthers had a glut of possession in the first half but thanks to some trademark Storm defence were held to two tries, both to winger Kevin Naiqama.
He was unlucky not to have a hat-trick before halftime when the final pass from fullback Matt Moylan was ruled forward.
The Storm went into the break up 14-10 with Smith finally finding the mark with a penalty kick after the siren.
Their tries came through Kevin Proctor, Mahe Fonua and Sisa Waqa.
Penrith winger Josh Mansour scored in the 44th minute to give his side the ascendancy but Melbourne had plenty to play for.