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The spring that has been missing from the Storm?s step in recent weeks returned today as Melbourne put aside its indifferent away record to reclaim sixth place on the points table and snap a two game losing streak.
Despite a harrowing injury toll that saw no less than five players head into today?s match under an injury cloud ? six players were already unavailable due to injury or suspension ? Melbourne returned to the form that saw it vying for a top four finish just over a month ago.
The Storm?s near perfect completion rate in the second half (89%) laid the foundation for an impressive seven tries-to-three victory and sets up a tantalizing clash with the Bulldogs at Olympic Park next week.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy cited a change in preparations this week as the catalyst for the Storm?s renewed gusto.
?We played like a tired footy team last week so we had three days off. We?ve got a couple of forwards missing at the moment, some of the other forwards are probably carrying a little bit of a heavier workload than they have in other games during the game, so I think the three days off did us good,? Bellamy explained.
?We had a bit of a spring back in our step with our attack but it was our defence that I was more impressed with than anything else.
?We haven?t been playing that great and everyone?s just happy with the performance today and also perhaps a little bit relieved to still know we?ve got it.?
Canberra made a dream start to the match when veteran Jason Croker ran onto a fortuitous Simon Woolford chip kick from close range, to score under the posts.
Despite starting sluggishly, the Storm worked its way back into the match over the next twenty minutes and two tries in two minutes midway through the half put the visitors in the lead at the halftime break.
The first came from a strong bust by hooker Cameron Smith who managed to beat three Raiders before off-loading to debutant Jeremy Smith who strolled over to score next to the posts with his first touch in first-grade.
A second try came in the 22nd minute courtesy of some Matt Orford brilliance. The crafty halfback gathered a Billy Slater offload at the halfway mark before running a neat one-two with winger Matt Geyer, only to evade two defenders and tip-toe down the sideline 20 metres to score untouched in the corner.
Orford?s second conversion handed the Storm a 12-6 lead at halftime.
The second term saw Melbourne step up a gear and close out the match with five tries to the Raiders? two.
The Storm?s first score of the half came in the 48th minute when winger Matt King claimed his 14th try of the season. A cutout pass from five-eighth Scott Hill found Stephen Kearney before the skipper offloaded to the waiting King who touched down in the corner unattended.
Just six minutes later Hill was at it again slicing through the Raiders defence before offloading to center Steve Bell who ran in to score under the posts.
Canberra hit back in the 48th minute courtesy of a strong solo effort by Clinton Shifcofske but the Storm answered immediately when Geyer scored after some clean ball movement that saw Ben MacDougall eventually offload to the Storm veteran.
But the Raiders refused to lie down and when Jason Bulgarelli claimed an opportunistic try four minutes later, the home side trailed by just ten points again.
Melbourne went about stamping out any hint of a Raiders comeback with tries to Billy Slater and MacDougall as the Storm claimed its third win on the road this year.
DETAILS STORM 36 Tries: J.Smith 1, Orford 1, King 1, Bell 1, Geyer 1, Slater 1, MacDougall 1 Goals: Orford 4/7
RAIDERS 18 Tries: Croker 1, Shifcofske 1, Bulgarelli 1 Goals: Shifcofske 3/3
For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]