The Canberra Raiders Holden Cup side has portrayed a tremendous fighting spirit to come from behind and take out a hard fought 28-24 win at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With Melbourne dominating late in the first half and early in the second, it looked unlikely that the Raiders were going to be able to come back from a 12 point deficit. But gritty defence and slick hands when in possession has seen the Green Machine win their third game of the season and have given them a 3-3 start to the season.
The new halves combination for the Raiders looked much more comfortable directing the team's attack and the defensive efforts on the edge and at fullback helped Canberra take out the four point win. The team as a whole lifted to show that their loss against the Sea Eagles was only a temporary setback.
The first half saw the Melbourne Storm take the spoils going into the sheds leading 18-12.
The Raiders again started positively, scoring the first try of the match. Travelling the length of the field off the back of a penalty, Brenko Lee took the ball to the line and powered over the storm fullback to open the scoring. Raiders went up 6-0 after the successful conversion from Zac Woolford.
Gaps began opening up in the Green Machine’s line but the cover defence from the Raiders saved them on numerous occasions, stopping two certain tries from Melbourne.
The Storm then answered back, creating an overlap on the left side of the field and Tony Tumusa showed off his speed and turned the Raiders fullback Thomas Cronan inside out to score their first try of the half. With Mack Mason converting the try the scores were tied 6-6.
Melbourne then took the lead after the Raiders knocked the ball on inside their half. Off the scrum the ball went out to Zion Zaka who dummied and created a line break, proving too quick for the cover defence the Storm scored their second for the day. Another successful conversion from Mason saw the lead go out to 12-6.
Determined to not let the lead blow out further, the Raiders took advantage of a Melbourne error inside their 20 metres. In the 26th minute the Green Machine answered back after another great run and offload from Brenko Lee saw Taniela Moa score for the Raiders. Conversion was again successful tying the game up 12-12.
Towards the end of the half Melbourne struck again. A grubber kick from dummy half was put in behind the Raiders goaline defence and Shae ah Fook managed to ground the ball just behind the uprights. Melbourne ended the first 40 minutes leading 18-12.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Melbourne started where they left off in the second half. Storm captain Joe Stimson runs into a hole and scored under the posts leaving an easy conversion extending the Storm’s lead 24-12.
The Raiders then showed they were not about to lie down in the second half answering Melbourne with a try of their own. Being just five metres out from the Storms try line, the Green Machine’s Brett Solomon proved too strong, shedding two tackles and falling over the try line. The deficit was pegged back to 24-14 after the successful conversion.
Canberra fought their way back into the game scoring a try just two minutes after their last. A high ball sent up by Lee went into Melbourne’s in goal area. No one from the Storm attempted to catch the ball and the resulting bounce landed perfectly in the Raiders Jordyn Ballard’s hands who scored his first of the match. With the ever important conversion kick just hitting the upright, Melbourne held onto their slim lead 24-22.
In the 64th minute Canberra gained an important penalty, allowing great attacking position just 30 metres out. A perfect cut out pass from dummy half went straight into the arms of Brett Solomon, who ran into a gaping hole to score his second and to put the Raiders back in front 28-24.
Late errors and penalties conceded by both sides saw the game finish a 28-24 Raiders win, which the faithful Canberra Crowd were grateful for.
Raiders Coach Mick Mantelli would be happy with the much improved effort from his side, fighting back from being 12 points down and holding onto their four point lead.
Brenko Lee looked dangerous all afternoon, damaging runs down the left and right kept Melbourne’s defence guessing. His offence was complimented by his strong defensive efforts making important tackles on the left side defence.
Man of the Match was awarded to double try scorer Brett Solomon.
Canberra Raiders 28 (Brett Solomon 2, Brenko Lee, Taniela Moa, Jordyn Ballard tries; Ballard 2, Zac Woolford 2 goals) def. Melbourne Storm 24 (Tries: Tony Tumusa, Zion Zaka, Shae ah Fook, Joe Stimson tries; Zion Ioka 2, Joe Stimson 2 goals).