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Viliame Kikau scores STUNNING try as Penrith thrash Storm 32-6 to reclaim first spot on NRL ladder 

Viliame Kikau scored an impressive try as Penrith thrashed Melbourne 32-6 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s preliminary final.

The matchup between Storm and Panthers had been billed as the highlight of the Magic Round and it was Kikau who provided some magic as the reigning premiers took control of the game early in the first half.

With just 10 minutes remaining and Penrith had already converted a try for good, Nathan Cleary fired a cross for Kikau, who towered over Melbourne center Marion Seve to regain possession and score the Panthers’ second try. .

Viliame Kikau scored an impressive try as Penrith defeated Melbourne 32-6 in the Magic Round

Viliame Kikau scored an impressive try as Penrith defeated Melbourne 32-6 in the Magic Round

Panthers fullback towered over Melbourne center Marion Seve to score Penrith's second try on Saturday night (above).

Panthers fullback towered over Melbourne center Marion Seve to score Penrith’s second try on Saturday night (above).

“He’s unbelievable, this guy,” Paul Vautin said on Nine, while the Fox League commentary duo of Dan Ginnane and Michael Ennis described the Panthers’ second rower as “ridiculous” and “unstoppable.”

In front of 46,454 fans at Suncorp Stadium, Penrith never let up after taking a two-down lead in the first quarter of an hour.

Melbourne was way under star power and it showed when the Panthers pulled off their biggest win over the Storm.

Fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen (knee) and center Reimis Smith (pectoral) suffered injuries in last week’s win, while halfback Jahrome Hughes (calf) retired on game day.

Kikau was at his best against Storm, racking up 58 meters in seven runs.

Kikau was at his best against Storm, racking up 58 meters in seven runs.

And providing an excellent assist for Jarome Luai (right), who scored Penrith's fourth try (above)

And providing an excellent assist for Jarome Luai (right), who scored Penrith’s fourth try (above)

It was the first time the two sides had met since last year’s preliminary final on the same ground when the Storm were also outclassed.

“It’s probably a game that we needed after three or four weeks where we won really well,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.

‘With all due respect, it was quite a comedown for us.

‘We got what we deserved tonight. Maybe we haven’t done as well as others thought.

The Storm hit back in the first half thanks to Nick Meaney's attempt, but that was the best it could get for an injury-depleted Melbourne.

The Storm hit back in the first half thanks to Nick Meaney’s attempt, but that was the best it could get for an injury-depleted Melbourne.

Cameron Munster set up Melbourne's only try, but struggled to work his usual magic

Cameron Munster set up Melbourne’s only try, but struggled to work his usual magic

The Panthers were ruthless when it came to capitalizing on Melbourne’s mistakes.

And there was some immediate concern that Storm might lose another one of his stellar backbone members in the first set of the match.

Harry Grant got up in a daze after taking a nasty hit while trying to take down James Fisher-Harris.

Grant was given the go-ahead to continue playing, but it was those who came up from the reserve grade that allowed the Panthers to take an early lead.

Storm running back Cooper Johns fought in place of the injured Jahrome Hughes

Storm running back Cooper Johns fought in place of the injured Jahrome Hughes

Penrith sensed a vulnerability in Melbourne’s right-back defense that contained running back Cooper Johns and Seve in the center for their first games of the season.

Izack Tago ran through a big gap Seve left for the Panthers’ first down before Kikau added Penrith’s second after 10 minutes.

Melbourne bounced back with a well-weighted five-eighth kick from Cameron Munster that Nick Meaney easily recovered to score, but it was the Storm’s only attempt of the night.

Nathan Cleary responded by adding a penalty for the Panthers and then targeted another backup, this time fullback Tyran Wishart, with one of his aerial bombs.

As Nathan Cleary ran the show for the reigning premieres at Suncorp Stadium

As Nathan Cleary ran the show for the reigning premieres at Suncorp Stadium

Izack Tago grabbed a brace in the first half for Penrith and was a constant problem for Storm

Izack Tago grabbed a brace in the first half for Penrith and was a constant problem for Storm

Wishart dropped the ball under pressure from Kikau and Tago hit the ground to give the Panthers a 20-6 halftime lead.

Melbourne held off Penrith for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but the pressure was on when Kikau ran at Johns and the Fijian great unloaded for Jarome Luai to score.

Stephen Crichton added another for the Panthers, with coach Ivan Cleary watching from the couch.

Cleary was not cleared to travel after undergoing knee surgery, but is likely to return to the deck for next week’s game against the Sydney Roosters.

Penrith returned to the top of the NRL ladder with his ninth win in 10 games

Penrith returned to the top of the NRL ladder with his ninth win in 10 games

‘It was not a normal week. Obviously, Iván is not here and he really wanted to go up, but this morning he made the decision not to come,” said assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo.

“There could easily have been a lot of distractions there, but I thought our guys handled it very well.”

“Even the game before we got to the golden point, we had to stop our warmups, wait and come back and they just handled everything we threw at them the last few days and all the distractions.” I thought they were really good.

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