The Canberra Raiders sent Melbourne to pack from the 2022 premiership match with an overturned 28-20 at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Ricky Stuart’s side have now beaten Melbourne five times in a row at AAMI Park and are moving on to play against the Eels in another sudden death clash next weekend.
After strenuously defending their line for several sets in the beginning, the Raiders broke the storm when Joseph Tapine put Jack Wighton in the back field with a gentle offload.
Wighton blocked his ears and then dumped a pass that was touched by Nick Meaney before landing in the hands of Xavier Savage who sent him to Matt Timoko, the center faced Cameron Munster and turned into the right corner for a 4-0 lead.
After the third call back to six in the first 15 minutes, Storm went left and Kenny Bromwich put out a grubber which Savage was forced to knock him out to give the home team a new set.
A goal worthy of the Finals
From there it was ballplayers Munster and Jahrome Hughes who made room on the right for Marion Seve to put Xavier Coates on the run on a 20m corner run for his 14th goal of the season.
Four minutes later it was Caotes who doubled down on his tally in the wake of a brilliant work leading from Hughes, who spotted Jordan Rapana off his wing and beat his wing to land and the Storm led 8-4.
It took the Raiders just 10 minutes to respond and regain their lead when halfback Jamal Fogarty made the first pass of a scrum 10 meters away and swept Meaney, Justin Olam and David Nofoaluma away to score.
Fogarty makes his way
In the 35th minute Tapine capped off a magnificent first half when he put Elliott Whitehead from close range with another clever dump and the Green Machine was overdriven at 16-8.
Munster and Hughes teamed up again in the 45th minute to put Seve on the right flank, the center who switched back to Munster who found Coates on the net for his second hat-trick of the season. Munster converted to take it 16-14.
Tapine’s high tackle on Hughes in the 50th minute gave Munster a penalty shot to equal the scores, but pushed him wide.
Storm regained their lead in the 57th minute when a furious Nelson Asofa-Solomona took a pass from Grant at 10 meters and proved unstoppable for 20-16 with Munster’s conversion.
Kris uses her head to put Rapana
With 15 minutes left it was Wighton who pushed a left kick on goal for Hudson Young to knock Munster on the ball and block the scores before Fogarty turned 22-20 in Canberra.
The Raiders launched a raid down the left side with five minutes left and Jordan Rapana made the most of a stroke of luck after a pass bounced off Kris’ head and into the goal area. Fogarty’s icy conversion brought the score of 28-20 to the guests and the overturn was complete.
It is only the fourth time in 25 years of the top eight system that the eighth-place team eliminates the fifth-place team.
Snapshot of the match
- Raiders center Matt Timoko left the field in the 12th minute for an HIA he passed.
- Storm winger Xavier Coates scored the seventh brace of his 49-game career and then turned it into his second career hat-trick.
- Storm striker Kenny Bromwich left the field at the end of the interval for an HIA he passed.
- Joseph Tapine played the first 51 minutes without interruption and accumulated 155 meters over 14 runs, three offloads and three line break assists. He ended the evening with 216 meters.
- Joseph Tapine was put on the scoresheet in the 50th minute for high contact on Jahrome Hughes, who left the field for an HIA, which he passed.
Coates goes from coast to coast
- Nelson Asofa-Solomona scored a try, nine tackle breaks and 156 linear meters for the Storm.
- Hudson Young’s goal was his 14th of the season, the best for Canberra with Sebastian Kris.
- Cameron Munster was all for the Storm, running 217 meters, breaking six tackles and having an assisted try.
- Corey Horsburgh was strong off the bench for the Raiders with 14 points for 97 meters.
- Raiders full-back Adam Elliott lasted just 31 minutes before succumbing to a hip injury.
- Storm have not been eliminated in the first weekend of the Finals since 2014, when Canterbury beat them 28-4 at AAMI Park.
Whitehead enters the scene
With kiwi master Jahrome Hughes back at the helm, Storm looked more like them and the halfback held his fingers for all of the top two tries, both of which were scored by Xavier Coates. The second of those at 22 ‘was a peach, Harry escaped from the middle of the dummy and turned Cameron Munster inside before number 6 found Hughes who looked up and saw Jordan Rapana away from his wing, then put a precise kick chip for Coates who takes the full and scores.
Good luck defending him
What they say
NRL Press Conference: Storm v Raiders – Finals Week 1, 2022
The season is over for the Storm as the Raiders move into week two of the finals to face the Eels at CommBank Stadium on Friday night. That will be the first ever final match between the Raiders and the Eels.
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