The Canberra Raiders welcomed the Melbourne Storm to the GIO Stadium as the visitors looked to avenge a 22-6 defeat from round three, in this battle between sixth and fourth.
The game started in an extremely fast manner with both sides putting in testing kicks into the in-goal area, with Canberra forcing the first goal-line drop-out.
However, the resulting play came to nothing.
In the 10th minute, Charnza Nicoll-Klokstad should have easily dealt with Jahrome Hughes’ kick into the in-goal but didn’t quite get enough contact on the ball for it to cross the dead-ball line.
This allowed Brenko Lee to take advantage of the loose ball and get a hand to the ball to open the scoring.
Over the next ten minutes, the Raiders began to take control of the territory battle.
After piling plenty of pressure on the Storm, Josh Papalii was the recipient of a short pass from Josh Hodgson and the prop-forward powered over Ryley Jacks to score.
The Raiders had been tackled 40 times in the Storm half, compared to just the eight Melbourne tackles in the Canberra half, but the visitors were still looking at taking the lead.
Bailey Simonsson and Josh Addo-Carr collided as they chased for the ball following a kick along the floor by Ryan Papenhuyzen, and Addo-Carr knocked the ball on.
However, the bunker deemed that Simonsson made contact with Addo-Carr instead of going for the ball and the Raiders winger was penalised and sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.
Things went from bad to worse for the Raiders as Josh Hodgson picked up a serious-looking knee injury and would leave the field.
With the man advantage on the left-hand edge, the Storm chose not to take the two points and attacked down the Simonsson-less edge of the Raiders. Papenhuyzen’s flat pass to Addo-Carr meant the winger could cross in the corner.
The remainder of the half was extremely hectic with plenty of gamesmanship from the Storm and Cameron Smith, coming alongside hard tackles, plenty of knock-ons and failed field-goal attempt from Ryan Papenhuyzen on the hooter.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 6-12 Melbourne Storm
The intensity from the first half continued well into the second period with both sides going toe-to-toe, with neither team able to breakthrough.
That was until 12 minutes in when Dunamis Lui was penalised for a tackle off the ball and Cameron Smith converted the penalty to give Melbourne an eight-point lead.
That lead was quickly cut back to within one score as Elliot Whitehead, broke through the line and slid over to score.
However, under further review, the second-rower lost control of the ball in grounding and Melbourne remained 6-14 ahead.
The Storm were still under serious pressure from the Raiders, and it looked as though the home side would pick up another repeat set.
That was until Ryan Papenhuyzen scooped up George Williams’ kick along the floor and the full-back managed to stay inside the touchline and then race 90-metres to score under the posts with only Jack Wighton managing to get close to him.
Canberra did cross through Bailey Simonsson in the corner, but the play was brought back for obstruction and the Storm escaped once again.
A few tackles later, Simonsson left the field for the Raiders due to a shoulder injury, which left the same side down to 15 players, with just under 15 minutes still to go.
This seemed to spur Canberra on though, as Siliva Havili played down the short side to Jack Wighton, who tipped onto Jarad Croker, who’s quick catch and pass to Nick Cotric caught the Storm off guard and the winger dove over to score.
Being ten points behind with less than a minute remaining, time was running out for the Raiders, but after spreading the ball from right to left, the ball found Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad who pushed through the tackle of a number of Melbourne defenders to slam the ball down.
The Raiders did receive the kick-off but couldn’t do enough to pick up a try at the end of the game.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 14-20 Melbourne Storm
Nicoll-Klokstad, Cotric, Croker, Oldfield, Simonsson, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Hodgson, Lui, Young, Whitehead, O’Donnell
Interchanges: Tapine, Havili, Sutton, Rapana
Tries: Papalii, Cotric, Nicoll-Klokstad
Goals: Croker (1/3)
Papenhuyzen, Addo-Carr, Olam, Momirovski, Lee, Jacks, Hughes, J. Bromwich, C. Smith, Welch, K. Bromwich, Faasuamaleaui, Finucane
Interchanges: B. Smith, Asofa-Solomona, Schonig, Hynes
Tries: Lee, Addo-Carr, Papenhuyzen
Goals: C. Smith (4/4)
Referee: G. Atkins
Touch Judges: D. Munro, P. Gough
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)