Jordan Rapana made a massive return to the NRL with the opening try in less than four minutes of play in the round three clash against Melbourne Storm. Captain Jarrod Croker added the extra two for a 6 – 0 lead.
The nine-week hiatus due to COVID-19 had little impact on the Raiders, with a huge defensive effort for a full 80 minutes, whilst putting 18 points on their rivals in the first half at AAMI Park.
Canberra made Melbourne pay for their errors with an incredible play from George Williams to Nick Cotric for a try in the corner off the back of a set restart and penalty after just 14 minutes. A huge kick from Croker from the sideline put the green machine up 12 – 0.
Melbourne looked like scoring several times but the Raiders defence held them out and the frustration resulted in incomplete sets from the home side.
A line break from Josh Addo-Car gave Melbourne fans a glimpse of hope but a grubber kick ricochet off Canberra and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad dived on the ball.
A subsequent knock-on from Addo-Carr on Melbourne’s line would give the Raiders another chance with Jack Wighton running through defenders. A short kick from Josh Hodgson forced Suliasi Vunivalu to take the ball dead.
With 12 minutes to go in the first half, Melbourne was awarded a set restart and penalty, but Croker denied them, taking it over the dead ball line and the Raiders hold on.
Ryan Papenhuyzen broke the Raiders line and a few quick play-the-balls saw Dale Finucane score the Storms first first-half try of the season, followed by a successful conversion from Smith.
Momentum seemed to shift towards Storm as Cameron Munster broke the line and put in a huge kick to the in-goal as Croker watched it go dead just as Melbourne chasers arrived.
Williams broke Melbourne’s defence and momentum with just five minutes to go before the break, finding Nicoll-Klokstad for another four-pointer, and Croker added the extra two as they go into half time at 18 – 6.
The second half started with a number of 20m restarts from both sides as the high energy, fast-paced first 40 minutes seemed to take its toll on the players.
An unsuccessful captain's challenge against the Raiders gave Melbourne another chance, but they couldn’t shake their frustrations to complete their set.
Rapana looked like scoring again but just couldn’t put the ball down as he dived over the line and Melbourne narrowly escaped.
A penalty for a crusher tackle on Nicoll-Klokstad against Tino Faasuamaleaui was followed closely by a high shot from Josh Hodgson and another against Elliott Whitehead in a physical game from both sides.
Dunamis Lui stripped the ball to get possession back for his team, followed by another penalty against Melbourne as Canberra marched down the field, but an error from Corey Horsburgh as Melbourne just held on.
Melbourne race down the field, and a missed error would give them another chance with seven minutes to go as Justin Olam is held up in goal by Tapine in a huge try-saving tackle.
Melbourne looked promising again with a kick across field to Vunivalu but Rapana gave him a little shove over the sideline, potentially saving a try but giving Melbourne the ball back.
A steal by Hodgson and a 40 20 and to all but seal the deal for the Raiders with three minutes to go.
With an incredible finish, Curtis Scott chips downfield and Tapine scores with one minute to go in a huge 80-minute effort by the Green Machine.