The Canberra Raiders will meet the Melbourne Storm for the 39th time in history tomorrow. The Raiders have only emerged victorious on 11 of the 38 occasions, although a number of clashes have resulted in thrilling circumstances. Here are the 10 closest games by margin between the two sides.
10. Canberra 16 Melbourne 12 – GIO Stadium (Round 3, 2000)
When they met for the first time in the 21st century, it was the Green Machine who clinched a 16-12 victory. A host of former Canberra players etched as legends in Raiders history welcomed Melbourne to town. Brett Mullins lined up at fullback, Laurie Daley was still the skipper, Ruben Wiki played in the front-row, former Raiders coach David Furner and 318-game veteran Jason Croker took to the field in the back row, and Mal Meninga was the coach. As with the first fixture between the Raiders and Storm, the game was decided by four points.
9. Melbourne 16 Canberra 20 – AAMI Park (Round 25, 2000)
The Raiders made it two from two over the Victorians for season 2000 when they travelled south and left with their first win in Melbourne in history. Man mountain winger Lesley Vainikolo bagged a double as Canberra left with a win to help secure a top-four finish.
8. Canberra 28 Melbourne 32 – AAMI Park (Round 13, 2001)
When a third consecutive four-point Canberra-versus-Melbourne encounter played out midway through the 2001 season, it was the Storm who claimed the win in a high-scoring affair. Melbourne winger Matt Geyer snagged a pair of tries as his side staved off a fast-finishing Raiders outfit.
7. Canberra 12 Melbourne 16 – AAMI Park (Round 1, 2002)
The Raiders qualified for the 2002 finals and the Storm fell narrowly short, but it was a Melbourne side captained by prop Robbie Kearns who took the chocolates in the opening round of the 2002 season.
6. Canberra 18 Melbourne 22 – GIO Stadium (Round 11, 2004)
In a golden run for Melbourne against Canberra, in which it enjoyed a 14-game winning streak over the men in green, the Storm notched its fourth consecutive win in a four-point victory in the nation’s capital. A Joel Monaghan double wasn’t enough for the Raiders in a match in which a fresh-faced Cooper Cronk scored a try off the bench for Melbourne in his first game against Canberra
5. Canberra 18 Melbourne 22 – GIO Stadium (Round 25, 2006)
Battle-hardened Raiders lock Alan Tongue crossed for two tries, but the Storm nonetheless managed to sew up another four-point victory in the second-last round of the 2006 season.
4. Melbourne 20 Canberra 24 – AAMI Park (Round 8, 2013)
Canberra snagged back-to-back victories over Melbourne for the first time since Rounds 3 and 25 of 2000 to register arguably the upset of the year. The Raiders touched based in Melbourne without the services of forwards David Shillington, Joel Thompson and Josh Papalii, before their pack was further ravished by the loss of Tom Learoyd-Lahrs five minutes in. But Blake Ferguson was involved in everything in a game in which he collected a double and booted four goals from four attempts as the Raiders broke a 12-apieace deadlock at half-time to walk away with a win that captain Terry Campese described as “one of the best (he’s) been involved in”.
3. Canberra 22 Melbourne 8 – GIO Stadium (Round 23, 2016)
Both teams came into the clash on a six game winning streak but it was the Green Machine who took control of the game with an outstanding performance from Joey Leilua in particular. The Raiders centre scored two tries and was solid in defence along with his team as Canberra sent a clear message of warning to the rest of the NRL.
2. Canberra 24 Melbourne 22 – GIO Stadium (Round 7, 2014)
Melbourne crossed for a match-winning try stemming from a controversial play-the-ball after the siren against the Dragons in Round 6, but Craig Bellamy’s men would find themselves on the receiving end of a last-gasp match-winner in Round 7. The come-from-behind victory came through a 79th-minute try to prop Paul Vaughan after the Raiders had trailed 16-12 at the break. Reece Robinson was at his brilliant best in picking up a pair of tries.
1. Melbourne 14 Canberra 12 – AAMI Park (Preliminary Final, 2016).
Sorry to remind you, but this is etched in rugby league folklore as an epic of extraordinary sorts. A thrilling passage of hot potato footy resulted in a converted Elliott Whitehead try four minutes out from full-time to make it a two-point ball game, but the Storm would hold on to end the Raiders’ season in their first preliminary final berth since 1997.
Don’t miss the action at GIO Stadium tomorrow evening as the Raiders look to keep their season alive against the high-flying Storm. Another epic could be in the pipeline.