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The Melbourne Storm have announced their return to form in emphatic fashion tonight at their famed "Graveyard", trouncing the Canberra Raiders 46-6 at Olympic Park in front of 10,112 supporters.
The Raiders opened the scoring early and sent a shock through the Storm as Joel Monaghan went high above the pack and put it down. It was to be the only points the visitors would score all night - the Storm returning serve twice within the first twenty minute period through tries to Billy Slater and Greg Inglis and then later again through Jeff Lima to put the home side up 18-6.
Despite the scoreline, the result didn't seem a forgone conclusion at the break, but Melbourne ensured after the resumption that the result would be put beyond doubt early. Billy Slater had a hand in two fantastic plays, the first being his own 70 metre effort in leaving the Raiders back three in disarray around the goalposts, the second being a fantastic catch and pass maneuvore to put Steve Turner over out wide.
With the result then beyond doubt, the Storm refused to take the choker-hold off, putting on three more tries before fulltime. By the 70th minute Bellamy had benched a number of big names including Cameron Smith.
Concern was also raised post-match over the welfare of Storm forward Sika Manu as he collapsed on the athletics track during the victory lap.
Next week Gosford will host a mouthwatering clash between the Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm, while Canberra will head back up the Hume and host the New Zealand Warriors, in a game both teams will be desperate to win.
MATCH DETAILS Melbourne Storm 46 def Canberra Raiders 6 Round 10 - Monday May 18th, 2009 07:00pm Venue: Olympic Park, Melbourne Referee: Tony Archer & Brett Suttor Sideline Officials: Marcel Caillol & Steve Chiddy Video Referee: Bill Harrigan Crowd: 10,112 Halftime: Storm 18 Raiders 6
Melbourne Storm 46 Tries: Billy Slater (2), Greg Inglis, Jeff Lima, Steve Turner, Matt Cross, Adam Blair, Ryan Hoffman Field Goals: Cooper Cronk (0/1) Goals: Cameron Smith (6/7), Joseph Tomane (1/1)
Canberra Raiders 6 Tries: Joel Monaghan Goals: Terry Campese (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Cooper Cronk (Storm) 2 Points: Billy Slater (Storm) 1 Point: Matt Cross (Storm)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Olympic Park is the location as we close out Heritage Round in the Victorian capital. Melbourne and Canberra are the combatants. The teams have been finalised and we're just about ready to go.
Talk about the game as it happens - Storm v Raiders forum discussion - click here!
STORM: 1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Will Chambers 4. Greg Inglis 5. Joseph Tomane 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 17. Brett White 9. Cameron Smith 10. Adam Blair 11. Matthew Cross 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dallas Johnson Interchange: 8. Jeff Lima 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 15. Sika Manu 16. Aiden Tolman RAIDERS: 20. David Milne 2. Adrian Purtell 3. Justin Carney 4. Joel Monaghan 5. Phil Graham 6. Terry Campese 21. Marc Herbert 8. David Shillington 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Scott Logan 18. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 12. Bronson Harrison 13. Alan Tongue Interchange: 14. Trevor Thurling 15. Nigel Plum 16. Josh Miller 17. Dane Tilse
Olympic Park looks chock-a-block... let's get ready to rumble!
Canberra trot across the athletics track onto the Olympic Park turf, their lime green jerseys almost blending with the grass. Behind them are the Storm, in a 2002 alternate jersey throwback - a purple number with lightning bolts down the sides.
2 min: PENALTY Storm - ruck infringement sees the home side as the first with an attacking chance.
3 min: The ball goes high on the last but Inglis can't keep control of it and Canberra will work it out off their own line. Melbourne compound the poor last tackle option with a PENALTY to the Raiders
4 min: INJURY - Brett White clutching his right shoulder.
5 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Marc Herbert's back for Canberra and it's paid dividends immediately - he puts the ball up to the flanks and Joel Monaghan plucks it out of the air and puts it down. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 6-0
10 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Storm try - Billy Slater look to have scored off a kick but we're checking the offside. Looks good...
11 min: TRY Melbourne Storm A great kick through from Cooper Cronk finds Billy Slater almost under the posts. Fantastic rugby league. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. 6 all
14 min: A battle of kicking games opening up so far and it's Melbourne's Cooper Cronk just slightly in front, although Terry Campese from Canberra is finding touch and negating the effect of Billy Slater at fullback.
20 min: TRY Melbourne Storm A sensational line break from Ryan Hoffman eventually puts Greg Inglis over the line. A great long distance try. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 12-6
22 min: The Raiders begin to look like something is developing down the right hand side but a forward pass and knock-on all in one movement put paid to any notion of them levelling the scores just yet.
24 min: PENALTY Storm. Some enterprising play as Slater streaks down the right hand flank and grubbers it in field but it appears Cooper Cronk has been held off the ball and it's a penalty. One of the Raiders players has some choice words for Tony Archer who doesn't take to the abuse kindly.
26 min: TRY Melbourne Storm The Storm score easily from the penalty as Jeff Lima crashed over under the posts, and suddenly the Raiders look terrible. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 18-6
28 min: PENALTY Raiders - a ruck infringement by Melbourne gives Canberra some attacking football.
29 min: The Raiders force repeat sets through a line drop-out.
30 min: Joel Monaghan looks to have a double... but he's held up, and it looks like touchie Steve Chiddy has taken a tumble. From the last tackle a Raiders grubber is touched by Melbourne and it'll be another drop-out.
33 min: Another repeat set and the Raiders finally crack, spilling the ball.
38 min: Melbourne with one last attacking raid before halftime.
39 min: MISSED FIELD GOAL Melbourne Storm Cooper Cronk has a stab at putting his team 13 points up just before the break but the attempt sails wide. Canberra will work it out off a 20m tap and that'll be oranges. Melbourne Storm 18-6
HALFTIME: Melbourne Storm 18 Canberra Raiders 6 The game started strongly for the visiting Canberra side but things turned sour as soon as Melbourne put their foot on the gas. The Raiders' 6-0 early lead evaporated as tries to Slater and Inglis saw the Storm take the lead, while a penalty close to the line allowed an easy passage to the line for Adam Blair. The Storm will go into the final forty with the game there for the taking, but Canberra have showed enough so far to tell us it could still be a contest.
41 min: We're back underway for the second half, Canberra have first possession. PENALTY Raiders in the first set, they'll go on the attack now.
42 min: Chance goes begging for the Raiders as they knock it on in goal off the last tackle kick option.
43 min: Storm knock-on, Raiders get another chance to go at the line.
44 min: A terrible fifth-tackle kick from Campese goes out on the full. It follows a smashing hit by Inglis on Marc Herbert.
46 min: Canberra get within striking distance again but David Milne can't hold the ball and it's a knock-on.
48 min: Another Raiders error this time gives the Storm a chance. Poor fifth tackle option from the Storm there, Milne runs it off his own line with ease.
50 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Catastrophic defence from Canberra and Billy Slater gets his double shooting through from the other end of the park. Marc Herbert was down by the tryline putting his boot back on but couldn't stop the rampaging Slater. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 24-6
51 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Storm try. The chip-chase gives Billy Slater the ball and he turns it out for Steve Turner who powers toward the line - he looks held up but has eventually got it down. Double movement, held up, or TRY? Decision pending...
52 min: TRY Melbourne Storm The try is awarded to Steve Turner. Billy Slater hasn't just open the floodgates, he's ripped them off! Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 30-6
55 min: A small melee breaks out behind the play and while Tony Archer looks after it, Brett Suttor continues officiating the play that continues on-the-ball. Canberra have the ball at the moment and are making easy metres.
59 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Melbourne keep 'em coming, Matt Cross runs onto a short ball and is unstoppable from 30 metres out. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 34-6
60 min: Alan Tongue benched for the Raiders. PENALTY Storm - again for messing about in the play-the-ball, very poor discipline by Canberra.
62 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Storm try. Cronk hoists the bomb, it comes down and bounces back off Billy Slater into Adam Blair's arms and he puts it down beside the posts. Just checking onsides and the contest for the ball.
63 min: TRY Melbourne Storm The try is awarded again and Melbourne are set to record a thumping win here - and the game is only just three-quarters old. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 40-6
65 min: PENALTY Raiders - they'll have a shot at posting some consolation points now.
68 min: PENALTY Storm - inside the ten, and then backchat gets the Raiders marched another ten. Melbourne sniffing around for 50 now...
70 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Terrible defence from the Raiders and Ryan Hoffman runs the angle and scores out wide easily. This is an embarrassing night for the Canberra side. Hoffman is subsituted off for the Storm after Cam Smith and Brett White had also earlier been benched. Conversion attempt by Joseph Tomane successful. Melbourne Storm 46-6
75 min: The Raiders now with some attack as the game draws to a close. Melbourne's defence still as intense as ever. A fifth tackle cross-field kick results in a Purtell vs Tomane air-raid and Tomane comes up with the goods and the Storm fans breathe a sigh of relief.
77 min: Matt Cross with a break, he gets within 15 metres of the line but there's nothing doing as Cronk puts it cross-field to Tomane who fumbles it before it's booted into touch.
79 min: One last attacking raid here for Melbourne, can they reach the half-century? NO is the answer on that one, the last ball from Slater to Turner is called forward and the siren sounds as the scrum packs.
FULLTIME: Melbourne Storm 46 def Canberra Raiders 6 A comprehensive win for Melbourne in the end, their attack finally clicked tonight and they capitalised on their strong first half to destroy the Raiders defensive line in the second half.