It can't be underestimated the difference the assistance of the refs make to a team.
From the start of the game the ref pinged the Storm for fucking around in the ruck. That said they couldn't do it.
Penrith was doing it all night.
Why do players do it? Because it makes a difference. It gets in players heads and also impacts them physically and mentally.
So when one team can do it and one team can't, that's a huge advantage.
Storm used to get away with that shit and get the ref calls against their opponents and they were dominant. Now Penrith is getting it instead and they're pumping the Storm.
I would bet the sheer number of stupid errors the Storm made would be much lower if the ref didn't let Penrith get away with that crap OR if he let both teams do it. It's what's happened to the Wahs for decades.
Don't get me wrong, watching the Storm be at the wrong end of the calls instead of getting away with that shit is so satisfying. It's still shit.
Munster falling over then Smith dropping it sums up the Storm tonight. You complete like the Storm did and this is what you get when you play Panthers. I don't blame the Refs just saw a better team playing a team not in their league.