Andrew Pelechaty reviews Canberra’s amazing comeback win over Melbourne.
After half-an-hour, it looked like an easy night for Melbourne, leading 18-0 with tries to Justin Olam, Josh Addo-Carr and Sulasi Vunivalu, and Canberra losing Jack Wighton and Joe Tapine to the sin bin. Canberra nearly scored in the 31st minute, with Jordan Rapana’s Spider-Man-like dive for the corner denied by a foot in touch. Captain Jarrod Croker finally got Canberra on the board a few minutes later, though the Storm still looked comfortable with an 18-4 halftime lead.
The second half was pure magic from the Green Machine. Croker added another try early in the second half to trail 18-10. A 20-minute wrestle ensued as the Storm entered the final 10 still up by 8. Tries to Rapana and Josh Papalii sealed Canberra’s win, all but guaranteeing a vital top four finish, and at least one home final.
Canberra Blow the Doubters Away
Despite a brilliant 13-7 season so far, Canberra have been criticised for only beating “easy” teams and losing to the top five in Melbourne, Souths, Sydney Roosters (twice) and Manly-Warringah. That criticism seemed justified at halftime, but an astonishing second half – keeping Melbourne to nil and erasing a fourteen-point deficit – showed those same critics that Canberra will be genuine September threats. It would be a grand story if Canberra won their fourth premiership in the thirtieth anniversary of their first.
Minor Premiership on Hold…for Now
Melbourne entered this game with a three-game lead in first with four games left. While tonight’s loss means they haven’t sealed the minor premiership yet, the expected 200-0 win next Sunday against the hopeless Titans should be enough.
Croker’s Captain’s Knock
Like Homer Simpson in the United States Navy Reserve, Jarrod Croker pulled out the sparkle sparkle when needed. Two tries either side of halftime pulled Canberra from 18-0 down to 18-10, giving them a sniff, aided by three crucial second half conversions. He may have lost his 250th, but his 251st was much happier.
Sia Leads the Viking Clap
It’s become traditional for much-loved forward Sia Soliola to greet the Raiders fans after a big win. He didn’t disappoint, walking up to the small – but very vocal – group of Raiders fans, banging the drum and leading them in an impromptu Viking Clap after the game.
Melbourne Storm 18
Tries: Justin Olam, Josh Addo-Carr, Suliasi Vunivalu.
Goals: Cameron Smith 3/3.
Drop Goals: n/a
Canberra Raiders 22
Tries: Jarrod Croker (2), Jordan Rapana, Josh Papalii.
Goals: Croker 3/4.
Drop Goals: n/a
Melbourne Storm: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Justin Olam 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. Tui Kamikamica 15. Tino Faasuamaleaui 16. Joe Stimson 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen.
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. Iosia Soliola 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine. Interchange: 14. Bailey Simonsson 15. Dunamis Lui 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Ryan Sutton.