The Canberra Raiders proved they’re the Melbourne Storm’s worst nightmare at AAMI Park. The Green Machine made it three straight against the Storm in Melbourne, defeating the hosts 22-6 in game number 200 for Raiders forward Josh Papalii.
The Raiders are now 3-0 in season 2020, the first time they have achieved a start like this to a campaign in 15 years.
It’s also the third consecutive game where the 2019 grand finalists have kept their opponents to just six points.
It’s still (very) early days given that we have only witnessed one round following the NRL’s return, but the Raiders look like (very) early favourites for the premiership.
Coach Ricky Stuart would have loved what he’s seen from his squad in the first three rounds, but if we know Ricky, he will demand more from his players to reach new levels and we should certainly expect this during the course of the 2020 season.
But fans will still be asking: can the Raiders maintain this standard of play or reach new heights, or will they stumble at some point throughout the year?
So far the team hasn’t taken a backward step since the grand final last season and they have regrouped with some exceptional footy while new additions to the squad have made them even stronger in their quest to go one step further this time out.
George Williams to CNK. Lit.
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) May 30, 2020
Stuart’s men were spectacular in the contest and huge props must go to their defensive effort, especially in the second half when they repelled everything the Storm threw at them.
Halfback George Williams showcased just why the Raiders wanted to lure the England international away from the English Super League. The number seven provided two try assists but it was his defence that really stood out, stopping a couple of near try opportunities in the process.
Jordan Rapana marked his return to the nation’s capital and the starting line up with the first try of the game in the third minute in typical Rapana fashion.
The visitors would add two more tries in the first 40 minutes through Nick Cotric and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, before Joe Tapine finished off a magnificent sequence of play in the final minutes to cement their win.
Papalii certainly played his part. It’s why Raiders fans continue to appreciate his hard work after nearly a decade with the club. The 28-year-old is definitely looking to submit his name among the legends to have put on the green jersey.
Storm 6-22 Raiders
Storm tries: Finucane. Conversions: Smith (1).
Raiders tries: Rapana, Cotric, Nicoll-Klokstad, Tapine. Conversions: Croker (3).
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Justin Olam, 4. Marion Seve, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenneath Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane.
Substitutes: 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Tino Faasuamaleaui, 16. Christian Welch, 17. Matthew King.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 18. Jordan Rapana, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Corey Horsburgh.
Substitutes: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Michael Oldfield.