Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
After 11 years and 8 games, the Canberra Raiders have finally won a game in Melbourne, defeating a strong Storm side 20 points to 12.
It all went wrong early for the Storm, as the Canberra Raiders opened their account with a try in the 4th minute to winger Reece Robinson. Robinson received a cut out ball running wide, and confidently crashed through the line to score. From just inside the touchline, Croker added the extras to take the early lead to 6 points.
No more then 10 minutes later the Raiders crossed the line for another four pointer, much to the vocal disapproval of the home crowd. Canberra five-eighth Josh McCrone received a short ball from his fullback Josh Dugan, before taking on three defenders and scoring just over the line. The Storm fans were seemingly unhappy with the decision not to have the video referee look at the try, as they believed McCrone was well short. After things settled, Croker kicked the goal, to take the Raiders to a 12 point lead.
After that, it was a game of ten minute periods, or so it seemed. The Raiders, looking to extend their lead, thought they were over again in the 23rd minute, however skipper Alan Tongue failed to hold the ball after some heavy contact from Adam Blair. This time, the video referee was asked for his opinion, but he ruled no try.
On the back of the possession swinging away from the Raiders, the Storm hit back with only five minutes before half time. Young Matt Duffie used some handy footwork to take on the line, and stepped around the tiring defence to crash over for his own try. As he does so often, Cameron Smith added the extras.
The scoreboard reflected the stats of the opening 40 minutes. The Raiders' completion rate stood at 17 from 19 sets (89%) compared to the Storm's 13 from 18 sets (72%). However the Storm appeared to be chancing their hand more often than the Raiders, with eight offloads to the Raiders' three. At half time, this was anyone's game to steal - however the Raiders did look strong early.
A less impressive start to the second half for the Raiders, with an early mistake to Josh McCrone. From the error, Cameron Smith spread the ball to the open side, finding Kevin Proctor, who tucked the ball up and put the foot down to beat Josh Dugan to score one of the easiest of tries. Melbourne on the other hand, started out strong in the second 40 minutes. The resulting conversion locked the game up at 12 points all.
The Raiders battled with the Storm, both giving up errors in the 30 minutes after half time. In the 68th minute, on the back of a penalty for a strip against Cameron Smith, the Raiders opted to take a Penalty Goal. Jarrod Croker, with memories of the missed goal against the Tigers in the finals in 2010, successfully kicked the two pointer to take the lead to 14 points to 12.
This started the roll to the end for the Raiders. In the 72nd minute, the video referee was brought back in to have a look at potentially the try of the season. Paul Simpkins awarded a