Storm’s Kenneth Bromwich takes on the Raiders defence at AAMI Park. Picture: AAP
Storm’s Kenneth Bromwich takes on the Raiders defence at AAMI Park. Picture: AAP

Storm’s blown chance: ‘I don’t know where to start’

Melbourne Storm is on a possible preliminary final crash course with premiers Sydney Roosters after losing qualifying final against Canberra Raiders 12-10.

Storm will play the winner of Sunday's Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos elimination final in Melbourne next week in a bid to stay in the title race.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy lamented his team's blown finals loss.

The master coach, who erred on the side of caution and not weighing into a sideline referee blunder, put the loss to poor completions and ignoring practiced plans for the match.

Despite the loss and potential of a straight-sets finals elimination, with Storm to meet the winner of Sunday's clash between Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos next week in Melbourne, Bellamy ruled out making wholesale changes to the squad.

"I've got a 1000 of them (thoughts on game), I don't know where to start," Bellamy said.

"A few things didn't go our way and we didn't make a few things go our way."

 

Storm were left stunned by the Raiders in Melbourne. Picture: AAP
Storm were left stunned by the Raiders in Melbourne. Picture: AAP

 

It proved a dour and stop-start affair as both teams committed errors and penalties.

A couple of Raiders injury time-outs also robbed Storm of momentum in critical and potentially scoring drives.

"I don't know how long the game went for but there was a lot of stopping the game for whatever," Bellamy.

The coach had only "one look" at a controversial Suliasi Vunivalu out-of-bounds call and did not want to get embroiled in it post-game.

"I probably can't say nothing about that, move on to the next question," Bellamy said.

"I probably only had the one look, I'm probably not an expert on it."

Bellamy also stopped short of confirming whether or not the club planned to put a call into the NRL referees department.

 

Storm star Cameron Munster is wrapped up by the Raiders defence. Pic: Michael Klein.
Storm star Cameron Munster is wrapped up by the Raiders defence. Pic: Michael Klein.

 

The Raiders jumped out of the blocks scoring in the opening five minutes and kept Storm on their heels for most of the first half.

The purple team responded towards the break and would take the lead early in the second half before Canberra delivered the knockout punch.

"We were a bit stuttery, I suppose, we didn't complete great," Bellamy said.

"It wasn't terrible but we just stopped and started there a bit.

"Then when we looked like we were getting on top we got up there and turned the ball over on first play and second play and it gave the Raiders a chance to come back into it."

It is the second time in five weeks the Lazarus-like Raiders have come-from-behind to stun Storm.

The visitors scored 22 unanswered points to win 22-18 last month and last night crossed in the 76th minute to regain the lead and win.

"We'll review this and there will be a few things I'm going to be fairly strong about, to be quite honest," Bellamy said.

"We'll see who we're playing next week and go from there."

 

John Bateman celebrates his matchwinning try for the Raiders. Picture: AAP
John Bateman celebrates his matchwinning try for the Raiders. Picture: AAP

 

A scratchy Storm looked set to pinch a gritty 10-6 win before Raiders star John Bateman scored the 76th-minute match-winner to clinch a 12-10 victory.

A blatant sideline referee blunder shortly after the Raiders' try merely salted Melbourne's wounds and denied Storm a chance to mount one last challenge with 90 seconds to go.

The referee incorrectly called Suliasi Vunivalu out of bounds after the Storm flyer marked a short kick off and landed inches inside the chalk.

The Raiders are just the third team to beat Storm twice in a single season since 2012, joining Cronulla Sharks and Manly Sea Eagles.

Bailey Simonsson starred for the visitors, racking up 170 running metres from 20 carries.

 

SMALL MARGINS

Melbourne has now lost five games by a combined losing margin of 10 points this season after going down by two points last night.

But Storm only had itself to blame, gifting the resurgent Raiders both territory and possession with fundamental turnovers and penalties.

Storm star Josh Addo-Carr will rue the loose carry which setup the Raiders' match-winning try while ever-reliable workhorse Dale Finucane also dropped the rock steaming towards Canberra territory.

Two golden opportunities went begging in the first half, with Nelson Asofa-Solomona penalised for a double movement near the uprights and Will Chambers not able to hold a slick but off-target pass from Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen on the left edge.

 

Storm skipper Cameron Smith is tackled by Canberra’s John Bateman. Picture: Michael Klein.
Storm skipper Cameron Smith is tackled by Canberra’s John Bateman. Picture: Michael Klein.

 

ROUGH-HOUSE RAIDERS

Canberra will sweat on the NRL match review committee's findings after Raiders stars Jordan Rapana and Joseph Tapine were placed on report.

Rapana should escape with a fine and carry-over points for a dangerous tackle on Cameron Munster.

Tapine was pinged for a "chicken wing" tackle on Storm utility Brandon Smith just before half-time.

The reports capped a fiery affair first half as the Raiders brutalised Storm ball runners Ryan Papenhuyzen, Josh Addo-Carr, Jahrome Hughes and Munster at every opportunity.

The visitors kept Papenhuyzen honest under the high ball also but overstepped the mark, twice penalised for illegal contact as the Storm young gun leapt in the air to defuse the bombs.

The Raiders were dealt a blow of their own, too, with Nick Cotric taking no further part in the game after failing his concussion test.

Cotric took an accidental heel to the face trying to tackle Papenhuyzen.

 

 

 

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Stream every match of the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >

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