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The Melbourne Storm have picked up their second victory on the trot to kick-off the 2019 NRL season, getting the better of the Canberra Raiders by 12 points away from home.
For the second week in a row, it was the first 20 minutes which set the tone for the contest, with Melbourne’s starting pack laying the law down to a clearly inferior Raiders starting group in the middle third of the field.
While it was Nelson Asofa-Solomona who led the way last week, Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane got this one off to a good start for the Storm, with play the ball speed and the work of Cameron Smith allowing them to dominate field position and possession during the opening half hour of the contest.
The Raiders were visibly fatigued later in the game due to all the defence they had done during the first stanza, but their defence wasn’t all that good it must be said.
The right-hand side, featuring Brodie Croft, a sweeping Jahrome Hughes and Curtis Scott, were all outstanding playing off the good work of Cameron Smith, as Suliasi Vunivalu took the chocolates with three first-half tries.
It had the Storm up 14-0 at the break, and while the Raiders got back into the contest during the final ten minutes of the first 40 minutes, Brandon Smith coming off the bench led the charge to continue their dominance.
While the Raiders weren’t poor, they made far too many errors on the attack, and against a team like the Storm, were always going to pay for it.
The hosts managed to get the first try of the second half following a Smith penalty goal, with Jarrod Croker crossing out wide, but any celebration they had was short-lived, as Asofa-Solomona barged over for a meat pie which all but put the game beyond doubt.
The Raiders stayed in the contest and added one last try through Jarrod Croker, but errors and a poor kicking game, with the combination between Sezer and Wighton struggling to gel, cost them big time in the last ten minutes as the Storm held on for what they would classify a very solid victory.
Next week, the Storm are off to Penrith for a tough Saturday night contest, while the Raiders again have the early Friday contest against Newcastle.
Canberra Raiders 10
Melbourne Storm 22
The Canberra Raiders will be gunning to make their start to the season a perfect one when they play at home for the first time against the Melbourne Storm. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 6pm (AEDT).
This is going to be a cracking battle one would think, with both sides getting up in their Round 1 matches.
While the quality of opposition might have been at opposite ends of the spectrum, both were still strong in their performances, and will look to take the momentum into this week.
The Raiders will be impacted by a five-day turnaround, but their game against the Titans certainly wasn’t a bruising affair as they picked up the win 21-0.
Of course, playing against a makeshift halves combination helped the Raiders, and realistically, they had to win for their own confidence, but their forwards were still strong, and Jack Wighton performed well in the halves.
His ability to take the heat off Aiden Sezer and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad at the back were pivotal in their performance.
The Storm, on the other hand, need to be strong in the forwards against Canberra. Even with their retired stars and a changed team from the one who has dominated the competition over the years, they have enough attacking weapons that they will score if given the chance.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jesse Bromwich need to lead the charge, starting the game with a high-intensity Canberra may not be able to match, as they did against Brisbane last week, blowing their opposition off the park in the opening 20 minutes.
So long as the Raiders get through the early onslaught, they will be right in the contest, and, at home, a very strong chance of winning if their attack fires up like it did last week. All eyes will also be on the returning Jordan Rapana.
While the Raiders have anything but a good overall record long-term against the Storm, they have beaten them twice in their last four starts at home, while the Storm’s two wins in that time were tough, tight and not over until the final minutes.
The Raiders are undoubtedly up against it, but the Storm have had problems doing what they do to other teams in Canberra over the last couple of years. I tend to think that might snap this time with the Raiders getting up in a close one.
Raiders by 4.
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Kick-off: 6pm (AEDT)
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports
Overall record: Played 41, Storm 31, Raiders 11
Last meeting: Round 20, 2018 – Storm 44 defeat Raiders 10 at AAMI Park
Last five: Storm 4, Raiders 1
Record at venue: Played 20, Storm 13, Raiders 7
Referees: Adam Gee, Phil Henderson
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. John Bateman 14. Siliva Havili 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Corey Horsburgh 19. Jj Collins 20. Bailey Simonsson
1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Patrick Kaufusi 18. Marion Seve 20. Ryan Papenhuyzen