Dreams of a strong run back into the top eight for the Penrith Panthers came to a crashing halt against the Roosters in Round 18. Now it's time to take the show on the road again and the Panthers could not have come up against a worse team than the Melbourne Storm.
Every NRL club has their bogey team. For Penrith it's the Melbourne Storm who've more than got the wood over them.
While the Storm have enjoyed an era of dominance over the NRL thanks to the Big Three (Slater, Cronk, Smith) and coach Bellamy, they've asserted life-long ascendancy over the Penrith Panthers.
Since 1998 Penrith have won 7 of 30 matches - and that's basically as positive at is gets. Only one of those victories has come in the last 15 clashes between the clubs and not since Round 15, 2005 have Penrith managed to put more than 20pts past the Purple defensive line.
2005 was actually Penrith's most bountiful season against the Storm. They racked up a combined 64-30 scoreline in the process of securing two wins from two matches. Unfortunately, it was the second and last time Penrith have had consecutive wins against Melbourne.
To make matters worse Cameron Smith, the man of the moment, will be playing his 300th NRL game and boy do those Melbourne folk know how to celebrate a big milestone. The Storm have won Smith's 50th, 100th, 150th, 200th, and 250th NRL games - an ominous stat.
The Panthers have shown improvement over the last few weeks and they'll essentially need to replicate their clinical performance against the Rabbitohs in Round 17 to be a real chance at 2pts and keeping touch with the top eight.
If the do-or-die matches hadn't already started for Penrith, they certainly will this weekend.
The NRL is now into single digits for rounds remaining and points are at a premium on a ladder as congested as we've ever seen.
Have Your Say: Can Penrith buck the hoodoo against the Storm and move up the ladder this weekend?