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The twenty previous times the Canberra Raiders had let in two consecutive first tries they went on to lose - nothing changed tonight as the Melbourne Storm managed a late 24-19 victory in the nation's capital.
The Storm started on a roll in very wet conditions which did not improve throughout the match. They only needed to two to crack the scoreboard first as Cooper Cronk linked with Cameron Smith to send Billy Slater into a hole to show up the Raiders defenders. Storm with Smith's conversion lead 6-0.
The key to the Storm's victory was the services of Cooper Cronk as their second try come the sixth minute as he set one up for himself. Video referee deemed the try was legal and awarded the points. Storm extended to 12-0.
Cameron Smith showed his experience as he opted for the two points as a penalty was given for an obstruction play on the Storm fullback Billy Slater. The goal sailed over the posts to extend their lead to 14-6.
Only one further try came in the opening 40 minutes as the control of the ball rose as the Raiders singled out Gareth Widdop with a grubber into the line. A fumble off his hands paved the way for Josh McCrone to stroll through and claim the four-pointer. Croker successfully with the conversion. This brought up the half time score of 14-12 as the Storm held a two point lead.
Just before half time, Storm fullback Billy Slater was placed on report for a high shot to the back of Josh Dugan's head. The incident is not expected to cost any time of the sideline for the champion number 1.
His skills are something not to be questioned as Cronk was on song with his kicking game twice in one set as he popped a chip across field for Anthony Quinn to find open space. Deep into Raiders territory the Storm punished them as Justin O'Neill flew through and dived on Cronk's beautiful kick into the goal. 18,12 after 52 minutes.
Repeat sets do wonders for a sides' confidence as the home side found themselves with three repeat sets on the Storm line. Glenn Buttriss stepped into a hole to get his name added on the score board. With 20 minutes to play the game locked at 18-all.
With the dead-lock in place a field goal was the option both sides attempted, the first with the Storm. Cooper Cronk opted for the attempt 40 metres out, however it was too low and an easy take for the Raiders fullback Josh Dugan.
Meanwhile three minutes later, the Raiders showed the visitors how to kick a field goal properly as Josh Dugan did his best impression of Benny Ellis however his attempt bounced over to gift the Raiders the lead with seven minutes to play, 19-18.
Not to be out done, the Storm had one final play left to steal the victory as Billy Slater leapt high into the in-goal area to pluck it out and beat defenders to seal the Melbourne victory. Cameron Smith added the nail in the coffin with the conversion. The Storm closed winners 24-19.
As a result of the win, the Storm join the Dragons and the Broncos with their first victories of the 2012 NRL season. With the loss on the board the Raiders face a roadtrip up north to face the Gold Coast Titan. Compared to the Storm will head home to meet with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Canberra Raiders 19 were defeated by Melbourne Storm 24
National Rugby League - Round 1 - Saturday March 3, 2012 5:30pm
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger and Brett Suttor
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Dave Abood and Chris Butler
Halftime: Canberra Raiders 12 Melbourne Storm 14
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Cooper Cronk (1 Try)
2 Points - Cameron Smith (3 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
1 Point - Billy Slater (2 Tries)
Canberra Raiders (19)
Tries: Glen Buttriss, Shaun Fensom, Josh McCrone
Field Goals: Josh Dugan (1/1)
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/3)
Melbourne Storm (24)
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater (2), Justin O'Neill
Field Goals: Cooper Cronk (0/1)
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)
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Good evening League fans, we welcome you to the first of three big clashes on this first Super Saturday for the 2012 NRL Season.
Live firstly here at Canberra Stadium, weather conditions not the best for this encounter with the rain pouring down in the Nation's capital.
As for team changes, the home side as per the program. While the Storm a bench change with number 18, Rory Kostjasyn comes onto the bench.
1 min: We are underway with the Storm kicking off to give the Raiders the first set.
1 min: Terry Campese closes the first set with a kick on halfway with easily collected by the Storm on their own 20.
1 min: First penalty of the match going to the Storm
2 min: TRY
Piggy-backing up field with the first penalty of the match. The Storm big three, Cronk, Smith and Slater all linking together to pop the inside ball to the running Slater to break the line to opening the scoring. Cam Smith no issues with the conversion.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
5 min: Blake Ferguson with a massive leap high to get the Raiders back into the match as he was under pressure to collect the bomb and he did.
6 min: Video Referee Decision pending for the Storm. Interesting set from the Storm in the Raiders goal line.
6 min: TRY
Video Referee awards the try to the Storm. Cooper Cronk staying committed to the play and racing through into the goals and managing to ground it just inside the line despite pressure from a pack of Raiders defenders. Smith no issue with the kick.
Melbourne Storm 12-0
9 min: Campese kicking on the last for the Raiders to complete a set as the rain continues to fall. Storm working it out of their own 10 metre zone.
11 min: Billy Slater doing well in the air before being tackled to ground with his opposite in Josh Dugan. It's end to end stuff since the Storm second try.
12 min: First penalty for the Raiders here, Storm committing too much in the ruck area. This is a chance for the green machine to hit back with their own points.
12 min: Second penalty here for the Raiders as the official called held and Storm players continued with the tackle. Attacking on the 20 metre line.
14 min: TRY
Off the back of two quick penalties the Raiders managed to get composed and show their skills. Shaun Fensom juggling the ball before falling over the line. Croker closing the gap to 6 points.
Melbourne Storm 12-6
17 min: Josh Dugan being put under pressure at the end of the Storm set. Got down low and holding up on the wet ground and works it out from the goal line.
18 min: Dugan kicks long down field off his 30 metre line but at the same time collected by Smith. Storm return the ball on the full through Quinn
19 min: Dugan dropping the ball on the goal line from the kick of the Storm, however a penalty to the Storm now for a Raiders' player taking out Billy Slater running through. Big chance to add to the score board.
20 min: PENALTY GOAL
Raiders gave away a penalty in front of the posts for an obstruction on Storm fullback Billy Slater. Cameron Smith opting with the two points and successfully adding them.
Melbourne Storm 14-6
22 min: Campese going for a low kick into the goals of the Storm, but just sitting up for Anthony Quinn as he was forced to return it.
22 min: Penalty to the Raiders for Slater not standing square at marker. Great opportunity for the Raiders to find the whitewash again inside the Storm 20 metres.
23 min: Another penalty quickly for the Raiders as the Storm taking too long to clear the ruck area.
23 min: Great tactic from the number 6 Campese, the kick heading for the corner but bouncing inside the touch in goal line and then going dead. Storm with the 20 metre tap.
27 min: KNOCK ON! Pocket referee ruling Widdop knocking on playing at the ball. Scrum feed to pack down for the Raiders 35 metres from the Storm line.
28 min: TRY
The Raiders making the best of their chances following the scrum. The Storm fumbling through the hands of Widdop. Josh McCrone making easy work and jumping on the mess to ground it. Croker converts to bring the Raiders within 2 points.
Melbourne Storm 14-12
31 min: No contest for the kick downfield off the Raiders, rolling over the touchline. Storm will work the ball out of the scrum feed on their own 10 metre line.
31 min: Quick penalty for the Storm as the Raiders fighting too much to bring the player down in the ruck. Cameron Smith kicking for touch.
32 min: Another penalty for the Storm as the crowd screams boos around the ground. Terry Campese penalised for having a second dig in the tackle. Melbourne attacking on the Raiders 30 metre line. The penalty count is at 4-all
34 min: KNOCK ON! Uncharacteristic error from the fullback. The wet ball not helping with the Storm quick passing style. Raiders awarded a scrum feed as a result on their own 20 metre line.
35 min: Josh Dugan with a very tactical kick to kick it away from Billy Slater and he is forced to chase it. Raiders defence up quickly on him and cut him down on the 20 metre line.
36 min: Raiders quickly on the attack off the Storm mistake. Big chance to take the lead in this set. Attacking inside the Storm 10 metre line.
36 min: Blake Ferguson denied a try in the corner as the touch judge ruled on the forward pass. Raiders unlucky not to claim the points there. Storm back on the attack on the 10 metre line off the scrum feed.
38 min: Despite the rain, things are heating up here in Canberra with the two fullback's colliding. Billy Slater with a hit shot to the back of the head of Josh Dugan. As a result he is placed on report.
38 min: Campese going for a grubber with Josh Dugan flying through looking for points but easily taken by Slater on the goal line.
39 min: Raiders quickly back on the attack with an error off the Storm, play on the call and they have a full set on the Storm line.
40 min: Siren sounds here in Canberra. The half closed with an error of the Raiders but the scrum not packed.
First 40 minutes is complete in the Nation's capital, with the visitors holding a two point lead in very wet and rainy conditions. The Storm showing signs of their typical quick passing game however the wet ball as seen players drop ball. The Raiders after two quick tries of the Storm managed to find their feet and get composed as they fought back with two of their own.
The green machine would be happy with their first half fight back, they need to continue their passing game to get points on the board. The Storm meanwhile need to get back to basics with their set plays. Still anyone's game, the team with the less error and greater possession will leave this one the victors.
Only one big call against the Raiders which has upset some fans as Blake Ferguson was denied a certain try with the officials denying him with a forward pass off Josh McCrone. It was a questionable call but regardless they need to come out firing to take the lead early.
40 min: Back underway here in Canberra with the Raiders kicking off.
41 min: Campese kicking on the 4th tackle downfield from inside the Storm's hand. Billy Slater collects before passing back to Quinn for the first hit up of the second half.
44 min: KNOCK ON! The wet conditions not helping the quick play of the ball. The speed of the ruck needs to slow down in the wet. Croker losing control. Storm get the scrum.
44 min: Storm not using the scrum feed effectively as the hand it back straight to the Raiders. They have a set just inside their half.
45 min: Raiders going to the air on the last off the boot of Campese, this time it's completed and Slater under it comfortably to return it into line.
46 min: Storm giving away a penalty for tackling a Raiders player off the ball. Big chance inside the Storm 30 metre line. The rain continues and looks like it's intensifying now.
47 min: Storm goal line defence holding strong as the Raiders opting for a running last play and the cut out pass thrown to Ferguson the wing but he went without it. Storm have the change over.
48 min: Dugan not under any pressure taking the Storm's kick in goals on the full to give the Raiders a 20 metre quick tap.
52 min: TRY
Cooper Cronk is on song with a great kick over the top firstly down deep in his own half to give Anthony Quinn open space. Continue into Raiders territory and then going to the air again for O'Neill to race through and gather the ball to score. Wonderful skill displayed from Cooper Cronk. Cam Smith from out wide fails to convert.
Melbourne Storm 18-12
55 min: Tackle count is restarted as Campese's kick is belted into the Storm line and officials rule the zero tackle count. Raiders with a big chance inside the Storm 30 metre line.
56 min: Another six more for the green machine, the is third set on the line. Storm fumbling the ball as the Raiders look for more points.
57 min: TRY
Raiders off the back of three repeat sets on the Storm line, the hooker managed to find a gap and step into it and cross the line. Croker sends the conversion over to lock the game at 18-all.
62 min: Storm deciding to run the ball on the last play but it was to no effect as the Raiders defensive line up quickly off the goal line to shut it down. Could of ended differently just needed a catch and pass and they would of been over. However Raiders will work it away from their own line.
64 min: KNOCK ON! Raiders looking for quick play across the field however it was juggled and lost by Dugan. Storm get the scrum feed inside the Raiders side of half way
67 min: Storm still looking to Raid the line but failed to great through the good defence. The home side working it off their line.
70 min: Terry Campese looking for the magic play with his kick but it only finds the dead ball line. Storm getting the 20m quick tap.
70 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT
Cronk looking to break the dead lock but his attempt at field goal was too low and taken just outside the goal line by Josh Dugan.
72 min: Raiders with a lucky break as Duffie drops the ball, massive chance to break the dead lock. Chance inside the 20 metre line.
73 min: FIELD GOAL
Josh Dugan a wonderful effort to drop the ball and attempt the field goal and takes the shot. It hit the crossbar and bounces over and in to give them the lead.
Canberra Raiders 19-18
74 min: KNOCK ON! Campese losing control over the ball on half way. Storm with the chance to get down in the Raiders half and send this game to golden point.
76 min: TRY
The big moments have been delivered by the big three as Billy Slater came racing in to pluck the ball out of the air and plant it down to steal the lead. Smith converts the goal from in front.
Melbourne Storm 24-19
78 min: Raiders with a final chance off the take the lead as they pull off the short kick off.
78 min: KNOCK ON! Raiders losing control of the ball as McCrone looked for the cut out pass to send Berrigan over for points. But Storm get the scrum feed.
79 min: One on One strip for the Raiders inside the Storm half.
79 min: KNOCK ON! The pressure getting to the Raiders forcing the play and Dugan losing control over the ball.
80 min: That is all she wrote here in Canberra. The Storm have managed a win in a very close contest as they stole the victory 24-19.