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REPORT | Melbourne Storm 44-10 Canberra Raiders

Melbourne make a statement in smashing the Raiders 44-10 at AAMI Park.

MATCH DETAILS

Melbourne came out firing, looking to make a statement against a Canberra side that still had a faint glimmer of hope to be playing finals football.

Back to back penalties gifted the home side their first points via penalty goal in the third minute, and things kept getting worse from there as Canberra had some early errors to get the Storm in a good attacking position.  They busted the defence open early after a set play saw Billy Slater draw two defenders and basketball pass for Felise Kaufusi to go over untouched.

Canberra had Melbourne pinned down their own end before giving away a offside penalty, then another as Josh Papalii was penalised for dissent to get Melbourne upfield. It was some individual brilliance from Cameron Munster as he showed off his footwork to cut through some weak defence to score under the posts.

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The Raiders hit back with Josh Hodgson putting over Sia Soliola for their first try, but third string goal kicker Sam Williams was unable to convert. It was only five minutes later before Melbourne was back upfield attacking the Raiders line as Hughes ducked out of a tackle and threw a long cutout pass for Vunivalu to score in the corner. They got another one in just before half-time as they attacked down the left hand side and Curtis Scott charged through some weak cover defence to send us into half time with the Storm up 24-4.

The second half was more of the same with Josh Addo-Carr pouncing on a loose ball after Brad Abbey couldn’t defuse a grubber in his in-goal, but the Raiders hit back again with Joseph Leilua capitalising on an error from Felise Kaufusi to score a great try after fending through four defenders.

From there it was Melbourne icing the game with a quick try to Nelson Asofa-Solomona before Curtis Scott got his second after Munster put a mid field grubber in for an open Addo-Carr, who drew in Nick Cotric and put his centre over the tryline.

Smith took a shot for penalty goal to put the Storm up 44-10 before joining Billy Slater on the sidelines for an early rest. With nothing left to play for and the game firmly out of reach, Sam Williams was penalised for an early tackle on Cheyse Blair as Jordan Rapana let his frustration get the best of him and get sent to the sin-bin with two minutes left for blowing up at the referee.

FOUR POINTERS

STORM JUST TOO GOOD

Melbourne were simply too clinical. Sides like the Raiders can be their kryptonite with their unstructured style of play, but the home side were ready for it this time. Smith, Slater and Munster are the new “big three” with Munster seemingly getting better every week. Not only did he score the solo try early with some nice footwork and his deceiving strength, his vision to put in a mid field grubber for Addo-Carr to put Curtis Scott over for his double was a trick shot that most halves wouldn’t have the guts to do.

THE PENALTY COUNT

All night on social media I read Raiders fans blaming the referees for the 34 point loss, and the penalty count finished 14-4 against the Raiders. However they were deserved penalties and Canberra had a 71% completion rate, which is unacceptable against the top sides.

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KEY CHANGES HURT THE RAIDERS

With no Croker and no Sezer, Ricky Stuart was forced to play a lot of players out of position as well as a lot of added pressure on Blake Austin who has proven to be much more effective as a bench impact player rather than the main playmaker, and Sam Williams who is simply not up to the standard of other halves in the NRL. Nick Cotric was floating between centre, fullback and the wing and at one stage Sia Soliola was in the centres and was burnt for speed by Curtis Scott to score his first try.

BACK TO BACK?

With this win, Melbourne went to the top of the table and will stay there unless the Dragons beat the Roosters in the last game of the round. They didn’t look great at the start of the season as they adjusted to life after Cronk, with a lot of expectation heaped onto the young Brodie Croft, who is currently playing in the lower grades while Jahrome Hughes starts at halfback. Hughes has been doing a great job playing under the Melbourne system and has made the #7 jersey his own after holding out Croft and Ryley Jacks. While they started slow, they have absolutely turned a corner and have now won 8 in a row including victories over heavyweights the Dragons and Roosters. Could they be the first team to go back-to-back since the Broncos did it a decade ago?

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THE RESULT

STORM 44
Tries: Felise Kaufusi 6′, Cameron Munster 15′, Suliasi Vunivalu 31′, Curtis Scott 39’/63′, Josh Addo-Carr 43′, Nelson Asofa-Solomona 60′
Goals: Cameron Smith 7/9

RAIDERS 10
Tries: Sia Soliola 27′, Joseph Leilua 55′
Goals: Sam Williams 1/2

SQUADS

MELBOURNE STORM

1. Billy Slater
2. Suliasi Vunivalu
3. Will Chambers
4. Curtis Scott
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
11. Felise Kaufusi
17. Joe Stimson
14. Kenneath Bromwich
13. Dale Finucane
15. Tim Glasby
16. Christian Welch
20. Cheyse Blair

CANBERRA RAIDERS

1. Brad Abbey
3. Nick Cotric
12. Elliot Whitehead
4. Joseph Leilua
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Blake Austin
7. Sam Williams
15. Luke Bateman
9. Josh Hodgson (c)
10. Junior Paulo
11. Joseph Tapine
17. Sia Soliola
13. Josh Papalii
8. Dunamis Lui
14. Liam Knight
16. Siliva Havili
18. Jack Murchie

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