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It was a tough first 20 minutes for the Storm and the tone was set right from the start as they sent the ball dead from the kick-off. The Raiders proceeded to put on 12 points and it was all smiles for the boys from the nation?s capital.
The tide turned quickly though as Matt Orford sprung into action. The Storm halfback had a hand in all three of Melbourne?s tries as they pulled the carpet out from underneath Canberra to lead 16-12 at halftime.
It was more of the same from Melbourne in the second half as Canberra continued to fall apart. Geyer went over in the 50th minute followed by Smith and Bai to give the Storm an unassailable 30-12 lead.
Geyer was sin binned late in the match for shorts pulling and Michael Monaghan went over close to fulltime but it was too little too late as Canberra had come to the conclusion that a nervous weekend awaited them.
For the Storm, they came into this match as outsiders but have now booked themselves a place in the second week in the finals. In the process they have sent out a warning to the other 7 finals sides that they are a genuine contender for the premiership.
RAIDERS 18 Tries: J.Monaghan, Lolesi, M.Monaghan Goals: Schifcofske 3/4 Lost to STORM 30 Tries: Bai 2, Orford, Moala, Geyer, Smith Goals: Orford 3/6
Friday 12 Sep 2003 7:30 PM Canberra Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Video Referee: Graeme West
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 ? M Orford (Storm) 2 ? R Kearns (Storm) 1 ? C Smith (Storm)
By the clock: 0 min: Kick-off! Finals Football is underway.
1st min: NEWS - The Storm have started their finals campaign off on a bad note. They kicked out on the full from the kick-off giving the Raiders a penalty on halfway.
8th min: NEWS - Melbourne have had an early chance on the Raiders line. They looked to have Canberra stretched out wide on the last tackle but knocked on.
10th min: PENALTY GOAL - Raiders. Stephen Kearney of the Storm was penalised for holding and slowing down in the play the ball area. Canberra took a shot at goal and Clinton Schifcofske slotted the two points - Raiders 2-0.
13th min: NEWS - There?s quite a small crowd at Canberra Stadium unfortunately. Cold, wet and windy conditions have kept many away in what potentially could've been a sell out crowd.
16th min: TRY - Raiders. Matt King for the Storm knocked on giving the Raiders a set on Melbourne's line. In the following set of six the Raiders went wide where the ball came to Wiki who put Joel Monaghan over in the corner. Clinton Schifcofske fails to convert - Raiders 6-0.
23rd min: TRY - Raiders. Mark McLinden put in a kick behind the Melbourne line forcing the Storm players to turn around. Lolesi of the Raiders got to the ball first forcing it just before the dead ball line. The video referee was asked to check the play and awarded a try. Clinton Schifcoske converts from the sideline - Raiders 12-0.
27th min: TRY - Storm. Matt Orford ran to the line, passed to Bell and it was simple catch and pass to send Marcus Bai over in the corner to get Melbourne back into this match. Orford fails to convert - Raiders 12-4.
30th min: TRY - Storm. Bell made a big break to take the Storm into enemy territory. From the next play Orford broke through the Canberra defensive line and scored. Orford converts - Raiders 12-10.
34th min: TRY - Storm. Canberra made a mistake coming out of their own half giving the Storm a sniff. Matt Orford - seeing that Joel Monaghan had come off his wing - put up a bomb which Moala took to score. Orford converts from the sideline - Storm 16-12.
36th min: NEWS - All the momentum is now with Melbourne. They had a dreadful first 20 minutes but its now the Raiders that are falling apart as halftime nears.
HALF TIME: Its been a game of two halves within a half. The Storm had a shaky start and before long the Raiders were up 12-0. The tide quickly turned as Matt Orford stepped up and led the way for the Storm, having a hand in all 3 of Melbourne's tries as they lead 16-12 at the break.
41st min: The second half is underway!
45th min: NEWS - Melbourne have started off the second half like they finished the third. On their first set they made a big break and went close to scoring.
50th min: TRY - Storm. A great individual try to Matt Geyer. Williams offloaded to Geyer and the Storm 5/8 proceeded to go past 4 Raiders defenders and wrestle with Schifcofske before scoring. Orford fails to convert - Storm 20-12.
53rd min: NEWS - David Kidwell is back on the field for the Storm after dislocating his finger early in the match.
55th min: NEWS - Canberra have a big win behind them in the second half which is making kicking extremely difficult for the Storm.
62nd min: NEWS - Both sides have blown several chances to score tries. Mogg and Joel Monaghan for Canberra have both knocked on with the line in sight while Marcus Bai dropped a very simple ball in a try scoring position.
65th min: TRY - Storm. Cameron Smith went from dummy half and dummied to kick bewildering the Camberra defence which left an opportunity for the Melbourne hooker to dive over to score. Orford converts - Storm 26-12.
69th min: TRY - Storm. The Ball came out wide, Kidwell kicked in behind the line and Marcus Bai dived on the ball to score a try that wraps the match up for the Storm. Orford fails to convert - Storm 30-12.
73rd min: SIN BIN - Matt Geyer of the Storm has been sin binned for pulling down the shorts of Joel Monaghan in a tackle.
80th min: TRY - Raiders. Thompson made a half break and offloaded to Michael Monaghan who scored a consolation try for the Raiders on fulltime. Schifcofske converts - Storm 30-18.
FULL TIME: The Storm kicked on in the second half to win the match convincingly. They now go through to the second week of the finals while the Raiders have a nervous weekend ahead.