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Melissa Woods

No Cleary no worries as Panther roll past Melbourne

The Panther's Jack Cogger (left) has been in top form as he replaces the injured Nathan Cleary. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Coach Ivan Cleary joked his Penrith team was playing better without his injured son Nathan in the line-up and he wasn't far wrong after their demolition job on Melbourne.

Their superstar playmaker missed the Marvel Stadium clash as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury but the Panthers didn't miss him as they overcame a slow start to roar to a 34-16 victory.

Running in six unanswered tries to extend their NRL ladder lead, Penrith made the third-placed Storm look more like pretenders than contenders.

Former Knight Jack Cogger, who relaunched his career at the Panthers, has replaced Cleary with aplomb, with the coach saying he wouldn't be rushing his son back after next week's bye.

"I'm not sure," said Cleary after the victory.

"He's doing quite a bit (of light running) and he's going well but one thing is going well in rehab and another is playing so we'll see.

"Hopefully but we're not going to be rushing it or pushing it."

Cogger was put under early defensive pressure by the Storm but absorbed it to shine in their comeback win prompting Cleary to have a fun dig at his son.

"We're going better without him maybe," he said.

"Coggs (Cogger) has been awesome - I'm so happy for him.

"He's been patient and has bided his time and with each game he gets more confident."

Another player to earn praise from the Panthers coach was 21-year-old centre Izack Tago, who scored two tries and set up another.

He repeatedly showed his brute strength to bounce off the Storm defence and his smarts when he put a kick through for Zac Hosking to score.

"The last two weeks he's been enormous," Cleary said of Tago.

"He kind of missed (a tackle on) Reimis Smith there for Nelson's try and I knew he wouldn't be happy with that but it was like that lit the fire in him.

"He's very hard to handle - he played great."

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