Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Canberra Raiders returning to GIO Stadium to play the Melbourne Storm. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Bailey Simonsson (1), Elliott Whitehead (13)
Goals: George Williams (14)
Tries: Nelson Asofa-Solomona (33, 48), Chris Lewis (39), Reimis Smith (52), Tom Eisenhuth (60), Trent Loiero (73)
Goals: Nicho Hynes (35, 40, 49, 53, 62)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Nicho Hynes (Melbourne Storm)
2 pts – Tui Kamikamica (Melbourne Storm)
1 pt – Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Canberra opened the scoring with a try to Bailey Simonsson in the first minute. Curtis Scott took a Sam Williams kick and the Raiders played hot potato footy (helped by Semi Valemi) before George Williams’ cross-field kick was taken by Simonsson in the right corner.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Elliot Whitehead coughed up the ball from the kick-off, giving Melbourne a prime chance, but Valemi pushed Josh “Slim Shady” Addo-Carr out of bounds as the Storm spread the ball right to left.
The Storm started to get some decent attacking territory, but The Mlik’s defence held firm. Did last week’s much-needed win give Canberra the confidence boost they needed?
A break from Scott led to more attacking opportunities for Canberra, with Whitehead pouncing on a beautiful Sam Williams kick. The other Williams – George – converted for a 10-0 lead.
Again though, Canberra coughed up the ball from the restart. Again, Canberra’s defence held firm, with George Jennings bundled into touch.
Melbourne got a relieving penalty when Valemi kept holding Nicho Hynes after he’d taken a bomb, but Canberra held out again. Despite Melbourne having 75% possession in the first quarter, Canberra had refused and resisted so far.
Canberra got another penalty after Tui Kamikamica was put on report for a crusher tackle, but Canberra couldn’t take advantage.
A few sets later, Hynes went through for a try, but the Bunker ruled no try due to a Nelson Asofa-Solomona obstruction.
Down the other end, Haynes was monstered by desperate Canberra defence after he fielded a Sam Williams kick which landed inside the right corner with the accuracy of an Anil Kumble leg break, forcing a line drop-out. Despite the excellent work, Canberra couldn’t capitalise.
Melbourne finally scored when Asofa-Solomona crashed over from short range. Even worse news for Canberra was an injury to Tom Starling in the lead up, though he carried on with a strapped ankle. Hynes’ conversion cut the margin to 10-6 just before halftime.
Scott scored in the right corner, but he lost it before he could ground it: a crucial miss just before the break.
Melbourne got a penalty, and Corey Horsburgh was put on report, after clashing with Asofa-Solomona. Chris Lewis scored after the Storm re-gathered a loose ball for Melbourne to hit the front. Canberra, by contrast, would be disappointed to trail at half-time after working so hard to gain a 10-0 lead against the defending premiers.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 10 Melbourne Storm 12Embed from Getty Images
Canberra got an early penalty when Lewis was put on repot for a high tackle, but wasn’t sin binned.
The Storm soon turned it around and got a goal-line drop out. Could they go further ahead? Valemi nearly pulled off an intercept, Lewis kicked long to the corner and Simonsson didn’t let it bounce out: a bizarre series of errors which would come back to hurt Canberra.
Asofa-Solomona crashed over again and managed to hand on the footy despite Starling’s best efforts. Hynes’ conversion gave Melbourne an 18-10 lead.
Reimis Smith all but put the game away with a runaway try; Melbourne had scored four tries in 19 minutes to turn a 10-0 deficit into a 24-10 lead. Could Canberra rally, or would Melbourne go on to put a cricket score on them?
Tom Eisenhuth scored the Storm’s fifth consecutive try, indicating they were in the mood to bury Canberra.
The Raiders finally got a chance with a penalty for an incorrect restart, but couldn’t make the most of it.
Canberra desperately Captains Challenged possible contact on Scott, who tried to spark the Raiders with a last-tackle kick and regather, but it was unsuccessful.
There was some good news for Canberra, with Brad Schneider officially making his debut off the bench.
Meanwhile, Melbourne kept their foot on Canberra’s throat, with Trent Loiero scoring his first NRL try. Even though Melbourne were missing a number of key players, they rolled on without missing a beat, as you’d expect from one of the most professional and consistent teams in the NRL.
In a damning stat for an undermanned Canberra side, tonight was the fourth time they’d sacrificed a double-digit lead, and the fifth time they’d been held scoreless in the second half.
Though the most outstanding stat: this was the first game “post-crackdown” with NO sin bins or send offs.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 10 Melbourne Storm 34
to be advised
Match Review Committee
Elliott Whitehead (Raiders) – Grade 1 Tripping – Early Guilty Plea $1150 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1500 fine.