An impressive performance from the Melbourne Storm on Friday night saw them defeat the Canberra Raiders 22-10 at GIO Stadium.
The Storm’s intent to target the Raiders’ left edge was evident in the opening exchanges of this round two clash. In a sensational display of attacking prowess, Storm winger Suliasi Vunivali showcased his athleticism when he crossed for three tries in succession – courtesy of a supreme cut-out ball from Jahrome Hughes, a threaded grubber kick from Brodie Croft and quick right hand shift from Curtis Scott. The wrath of the Storm was evident for the majority of the first half, as they continually exposed the Raiders’ fatiguing defensive line and powered through the centre of the field. Whilst the Raiders managed to swing the possession back in their favour, it was all to no avail as the Storm went into the half time break with a comfortable 14-0 lead.
A multitude of penalties in the opening exchanges set the tone for what would be a relatively scrappy second half, from both the Storm and the Raiders. Successive sets within the Storm’s half gave the Raiders a prime opportunity to reduce the deficit. Brilliant ball movement from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and John Bateman sent Jarrod Croker over under the posts for the Raiders’ first points. The Raiders’ strong defence in the following 10 minute period was squashed when a charging Nelson Asofa-Solomona barged his way past four defenders to enhance the Storm’s lead to 18. Whilst a late try from Croker gave the Green Machine a glimmer of hope, the lack of time remaining in the match ultimately proved costly. In a strong, wholesome performance, the Storm mustered a 22-10 victory and prevailed over a Raiders side lacking consistency.
Lightning Strikes Twice
As they have done so many times before, the Storm have had an electric start to their season – convincingly defeating two well-regarded outfits in the Brisbane Broncos and Canberra Raiders. Continuing where they left off last week, the Storm commenced this match with vigour and dynamism. Their continual ability to exhibit both structured and off-the-cuff football, whilst simultaneously remaining structured in defence, was pivotal in the context of the match. If the Storm can maintain this mindset for the remainder of 2019, they will be a force to be reckoned with come September.
Raiders Looking Green
With the final score merely flattering the home side, it is clear that the Raiders have many areas to improve on if they are to secure victory in round three. Whilst their completion rate was relatively high (76%), their fifth tackle options and ball placement continually undid their strong lead-up work. Their poor kicks and unstructured attack ultimately cemented their demise.
Running for 180 and 144 metres respectively, Storm enforcers Dale Finucane and Jesse Bromwich were instrumental for the duration of the contest. Their continual charges down the middle of the ruck laid a terrific platform for their backline, who subsequently utilised the space to cause havoc. Swift movements and agile footwork were the primary factors behind this comprehensive defeat.
Green Machine’s Shining Light
By almost single-handedly mustering a Raiders’ fightback, Jarrod Croker exemplified his leadership and toughness in this round two battle. In addition to pulling off two try-saving tackles in as many attempts, the 28-year-old scored the entirety of his team’s points. His 59 run metres, 14 tackles and two line breaks were telling statistics.
Melbourne Storm 22
Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu 3, Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Canberra Raiders 10
Tries: Jarrod Croker 2
Goals: Jarrod Croker
Melbourne Storm: 1 Jahrome Hughes, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Kenneath Bromwich, 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Christian Welch, 16 Tui Kamicamika, 18 Marion Seve.
Canberra Raiders: 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Jack Wighton, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Josh Papalii, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 Dunamis Lui, 11 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 John Bateman. Interchange: 14 Siliva Havili, 15 Ryan Sutton 16 Iosia Sloliola 17 Corey Horsburgh.