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The Canberra Raiders and Ricky Stuart face a tough task to turn their season around when they host the Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium. Follow this Saturday night NRL match right here on The Roar with live scores from 7:35pm (AEST).
Not even the loss of star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen to concussion on his return from a shoulder injury could stop the Storm from recording yet another win in Magic Round. After a tight first half, the reigning premiers blitzed the 12-man Dragons in the second half to run away with a 44-18 win – their seventh on the trot.
Remarkably, they’ve cracked 40 points in six of those matches, including the last four, with second-half blowouts common. Against the Raiders, who are in the midst of a worrying trend of fading badly after half time, such a penchant could see Josh Addo-Carr add to his remarkable run of tries.
The Raiders badly needed a win last week to break a run of five straight losses, but a 20-18 triumph over the lowly Bulldogs was about as uninspiring as it gets.
Trailing midway through the second half and a man down thanks to Josh Papalii’s sending-off, tries to Curtis Scott and Sebastian Kris saw them avoid a humiliating defeat, but they’ll need to be significantly better to so much as challenge the Storm.
They lose Papalii, plus Jack Wighton and Josh Hodgson, to suspension in a bitter blow for the Green Machine, with veteran Sam Williams to start as the new five-eighth. The Storm have fewer issues, with Brandon Smith a welcome return from his own suspension to slot straight back in at dummy-half.
1. Caleb Aekins, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Sebastian Kris, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Semi Valemei, 6. Sam Williams, 7. George Williams, 8. Dunamis Lui, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Emre Guler, 11. Corey Harawira-Naera, 12. Elliott Whitehead (c), 13. Hudson Young
Bench/Reserves: 14. Brad Schneider, 15. Ryan Sutton, 16. Corey Horsburgh, 17. Ryan James | 18. Matthew Timoko, 19. Iosia Soliola, 20. Siliva Havili, 21. Harry Rushton
1. Nicho Hynes, 2. George Jennings, 3. Reimis Smith, 4. Justin Olam, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Chris Lewis, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Brandon Smith, 10. Christian Welch11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenny Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane
Bench/Reserves: 14. Aaron Pene, 15. Tui Kamikamica, 16. Tom Eisenhuth, 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona | 18. Aaron Booth, 19. Cooper Johns, 20. Trent Loiero, 21. Dean Ieremia