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Late Storm hurts Raiders - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Tue, 22 Apr 2008 12:09:00 GMT
Melbourne recorded their 12th straight win over Canberra with a 23-16 win in front of 15,550 fans at Bruce Stadium.

Storm fullback Billy Slater was once again the star of the show, surely sewing up the Kangaroos fullback spot, running for 230 metres, with three line breaks, a hand in several tries and a spectacular try of his own.

Before the game Canberra lost a couple of their star players, Lincoln Withers and their captain Alan Tongue, forcing coach Neil Henry to make an astounding six positional and personnel changes.

For the first 65 minutes, the Storm struggled to counter the enthusiasm of the Raiders' play, but the cream rose to the top in the final 15 minutes, with the Storm posting a couple of crucial tries and a field goal from halfback Cooper Cronk.

Canberra had won five of their past six games at home, and from the outset it looked like they might make it six from seven and cause an upset over the reigning premiers.

"I was really disappointed with the way we started the game," said Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

"But I must say, the Raiders had a few guys out. A couple of important guys dropped out of the team in Alan Tongue and Withers, who are good players and important players, so for them to perform the way they did is a real credit to them.

"They controlled the ball so well in the first-half that it doesn't matter who you've got in your team you're going to be competitive.

"Our defence was really poor in the opening 20 minutes and that got us into trouble."

The Storm were let off the hook as early as the fourth minute.

A cross-field kick saw David Milne challenge Anthony Quinn in the air, the loose ball falling into the welcoming arms of Joel Monaghan who put the ball down, only for the video referee to adjudge that Milne had knocked on.

Melbourne weren't so lucky six minutes later.

A grubber kick through the Storm's defensive line caused confusion with Slater looking to usher the ball over the dead ball line, only for Canberra's Colin Best to touch the ball down with barely millimetres to spare to put the home side up 6-0; Todd Carney slotting the conversion.

Several minutes later the Raiders were over again. A bullocking run from backrower Nigel Plum saw him crash through the Storm's defence, leaving Slater exposed, and there was nothing the fullback could do to stop him scoring only metres from his own try-line.

Melbourne got themselves back in the game when a brilliant long ball from Cronk hit Storm centre Will Chambers on the chest, and he had the easiest of jobs crossing in the corner to reduce the deficit to eight points.

Another cross-field kick by the Raiders, this time to the opposite corner, saw Purtell score in the corner after Michael Dobson had the caught the kick, then offloaded in the tackle, sending Canberra in at half-time leading 16-4.

Canberra gave the Storm another let-off early in the second-half.

Another cross field kick caused problems for the Storm with Best out-jumping the pack and crossing in the corner, only for it to be ruled no-try as he had only just gone into touch before planting the ball down.
A superb try moments later by Melbourne gave the away fans something to cheer about.

A terrific offload by Michael Crocker saw the ball pass from Cam Smith to Slater who in turn put Anthony Quinn through a hole. Quinn then gave it back to Slater fed Steve Turner who easily crossed in the corner. Cam Smith made the conversion look easy from the side line.

With 15 minutes to go the Storm evened the scoreline. Again it was Slater at the heart of it.

A superb short inside ball from Cronk found Slater who brushed aside one tackle before easily sidestepping his opposite number for the Raiders Bronx Goodwin to score between the posts.

A field goal from Cronk with eight minutes to go put the Storm in front for the first time.

The final nail was put in the Raiders' coffin when a kick out to Israel Folau's wing saw the giant centre leap above the pack and get the ball down to end Canberra's gallant efforts against the reigning premiers.

The Storm now travel directly to Townsville to prepare for next Saturday night's clash against the Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

STORM 23 (Tries: Chambers, Turner, Slater, Folau; Goals: C. Smith 3; Field Goal: Cronk) def. RAIDERS 16 (Tries: Best, Plum, Purtell; Goals: Carney 2) at Canberra Stadium. - Read More, Here