The Canberra Raiders have gone down to the Melbourne storm 26-16 in a gutsy effort at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Thursday Night.
The Raiders did well to contain the Storm, the highest-scoring team in the NRL, to just three tries, but the Raiders were their own worst enemies, as errors and ill-discipline allowed the Storm to secure the win.
The Raiders got their first opportunity to attack when Cameron Munster was penalised for an escort in the Storm’s 20-meter line. It didn’t take long for the Raiders to capitalise when Jack Wighton threw a beautiful cut-out pass for Bailey Simonsson to score out wide in the third minute.
It wasn’t long before the Storm hit back through their tenacious hooker Brandon Smith. Smith exploded out of dummy-half close to the Raiders goal-line to score, and Nicho Hynes converted to give Melbourne a 6-4 lead.
Melbourne then extended their lead in the 14th minute through Dean Ieremia. The Storm spread the ball out wide on their own side of halfway, and Ieremia showed a clean pair of heels to find his way to the try line.
Minutes later, Cameron Munster put Chris Lewis through a hole in the Raiders’ defence to score a try, and Hynes converted to take the score out 18-4.
An illegal strip from Ryan Sutton in the 31st minute gave Nicho Hynes a clear shot at goal. Hynes put it through the uprights and extended the Storm’s lead to 20-4.
Canberra’s captain, Jarrod Croker, came off in the 34th minute after a head clash with Storm winger Dean Ieremia. Croker failed his HIA, and it forced Elliott Whitehead to move to left centre.
Matt Timoko went oh-so-close to scoring just before halftime after he busted through Cameron Munster to get over the line. But, unfortunately, the ball slipped out of Timoko’s hands as he attempted to ground it.
The Raiders got the perfect start to the second half - Jack Wighton threw yet another sensational cut-out pass for Bailey Simonsson to score in the 46th minute. Sam Williams converted and reduced Melbourne’s lead to 10.
Bailey Simonsson’s return from injury kept getting better, going over for his third try in the 53rd minute. The Storm failed to clean up a kick on their own goal-line, Jack Wighton pounced on the loose ball and found Simonsson unmarked.
A high tackle from Josh Hodgson gave Melbourne an easy shot at goal, Ryan Papenhuyzen converted, and Melbourne got out to a 22-16 lead.
Melbourne kept giving away penalties as the second half wore on. However, the Raiders couldn’t take most of their opportunities, as handling errors cost the men in green a chance to close the distance on the scoreboard.
With five minutes remaining, Corey Harawira-Naera was sent off the field for a dangerous tackle on Melbourne halfback Jerome Hughes. The penalty was given just outside the Raiders goal line, and Ryan Papenhuyzen kicked the penalty goal to take the score out to 24-16.
Papenhuyzen slotted another penalty goal on the buzzer to take the score out to 26-16.
Melbourne Storm 26 (Tries: B Smith, D Ieremia, C Lewis; Goals: N Hynes 3; Penalty Goals: N Hynes, R Papenhuyzen 3) d Canberra Raiders 16 (Tries: B Simonsson 3; Goals: S Williams 2)