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ANALYSIS: Raging Ricky 'lost for words' as Storm prove they're contenders by riding roughshod over 'crap' Raiders

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Editor
13th August, 2023
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Canberra coach Ricky Stuart labelled his team’s performance in their 48-2 thrashing at the hands of the Melbourne Storm on Sunday as “embarrassing.”

And he wasn’t wrong.

The Raiders have been the bogey team in recent years for Melbourne, who have been unable to beat the Green Machine at home since 2018. But they broke that jinx with a commanding victory.

“We weren’t prepared to fight for the 80 (minutes) and they were,” said a frustrated Stuart in the post-match press conference.

“We were fighting for our top-four spot and we delivered up that crap. That’s the embarrassing part. I’m lost for words.

“I don’t think I can say much more than that, to be honest, it was just a really, really embarrassing performance. We went away after 20 minutes.”

Stuart refused to speak about the announcement of club legend Jarrod Croker’s retirement, which was announced earlier in the day.

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“I’ll talk tomorrow about it. I’m not trying to be disrespectful … I ain’t in the mood for talking. I’m here because I have to be here,” leaving just seconds later.

The Storm were in complete control for the majority of Sunday’s clash at AAMI Park to remind everyone not to forget about them when talking about who’s in the mix for Grand Final day.

It was a tough day out for the Raiders, having nine tries put on them and finishing the game with fullback Jordan Rapana and centre Matthew Timiko sent to the sin bin.

It was meant to be one of the matches of the round with fourth taking on fifth, instead, it was a one-sided affair with the visitors unable to even cross the try line. The Raiders entered the game sitting in fourth spot on the NRL ladder but as the only team in the Top 8 with a negative point differential. A loss would prove costly, but a thrashing could be devastating to their finals chances.

The Storm now move into fourth spot, with the Raiders sinking to sixth.

Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Harry Grant were once again instrumental for the home side, back playing together for the first time in a few weeks.

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“We knew we needed to be defensively great today, and I think we were,” said Munster. “We’ve been a bit up and down the last few weeks, it was good to get that cohesion back and hopefully we can take that into the finals.”

After his recent overloaded schedule including State of Origin duties, star dummy half Grant was relegated to the bench by Storm coach Craig Bellamy. His impact was immediate when he came on midway through the first half, lifting the tempo of the game and he finished with an assist, a try of his own and four line breaks.

Bellamy was impressed with his team’s defence.

“We weren’t that great with the ball, to be honest,” said Bellamy. “We made a lot of errors in the first half but I just thought we built our game on our defence and that’s a bit of old-school Melbourne Storm.”

Storm show why they are contenders

It looked like the Raiders were going to keep a hold of their dominance over the Storm at AAMI Park intact, holding the majority of the early possession and keeping the Storm in their own half.

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After providing some early pressure, the Raiders forced a penalty and Jamal Fogarty opened the scoring with a penalty goal in the fourth minute. But the Storm quickly took the lead, with Christian Welch barging over the try line for his first four-pointer since 2021.

“That’s not a good sign for the Raiders,” said Fox League’s Anthony Griffin. They’ve had all the running early and the first chance the Storm get, their big front-rower jumps straight over the try line.”

Griffin was right, with the rest of the game belonging to the Storm.

The home side thought they had crossed again but some desperate goal-line defence from Nic Cotric arrived just in time to force a Xavier Coates knock-on. The Storm almost bungled another their next try, but centre Marion Seve managed to hold onto the ball and ground it on the line.

Raiders fullback Rapana was lucky not to have been penalised for an attempted trip on the Storm’s third try scorer Reimis Smith after sticking his leg out as Smith tried to get past him, but it was in vain as the speedster got back to his feet to give his team a 16-2 lead.

Grant’s impact into the game was immediate, linking with Hughes to send Eliesa Katoa over to score and send the Storm to the sheds at halftime leading 20-2. The Storm hooker added his name to the scorecard not long into the second half, along with Trent Loiero, Munster, Nick Meaney and Young Tonumaipea.

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With the hoodoo broken the Storm will now put all of their efforts into holding onto their Top 4 spot to ensure two bites at the finals cherry. As for the Raiders, they will need to go back to the drawing board after Sunday’s embarrassing effort if they want to keep themselves in the finals race.

Rapana in the bad books again

The Raiders fullback’s gamesmanship was under the spotlight once again on Sunday, involved in two ugly incidents in the first half.

He was lucky not to have spent some time in the sin bin when it looked like he tried to trip Reimis Smith as he went to score a try.

“It didn’t look like a trip, it was a trip,” said Fox League’s Corey Parker. “You see there the initial reaction from Reimis Smith when he got up after scoring the try. He was beaten there Rapana, he put the foot out, that is a trip …. it should have been 10 minutes in the bin.”

Then when Katoa touched down late in the half, Rapana slid in to stop the try knees first.

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“Extremely dangerous,” explained Parker. “Once again Katoa scores and they move on, but Jahrome Hughes at the end of the half brought it up with the ref – that is dangerous, it needs to be looked at.

“Rapana has come in, he leads with the leg, if he makes contact with his (Katoa’s forehead) that is dangerous contact.”

The fullback eventually found himself in the naughty corner, being sent to the sin bin for a ruck infringement late in the game.

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