It was a night of more Billy Slater brilliance, the fullback attacking with unstoppable flair and defusing with sheer ease as the Raiders were frustrated into submission and were lucky not to have 50 put on them in front of 10,000 Melbournians.
Back-rower Ryan Hoffman also flexed his muscles for NSW Origin selection, with a solid all round display that included a try and several key busts.
Canberra started well, getting the first try after only 5 minutes, but as the match wore on they struggled to go with Melbourne. The Raiders came with a plan to kick dead on every final tackle play, but struggled to continue their plan after conceding early penalties and dropping simple ball.
Herbert, a late replacement forÂ Josh McCrone, put a perfectly weighted bomb into the in-goal and NSW Origin hopeful Joel Monaghan out-jumped Greg Inglis and Joe Tomane to score – it was the sole highlight for the Green Machine as they went into their shells and faced a tackling session as the Storm ran amok.
This was probably the match the Storm had been waiting for, almost a training run, it allowed them to fine tune their attacking plays that they have been renowned for. Brett Finch played a backseat role, but remained a steady influence at the right times.
In terms of Origin selection, Joel Monaghan played well enough to keep himself in the frame, however playing behind frustrated and beaten forwards, the match wasn’t ideal for pivot Terry Campese – he needs everything to go his way to remain in the hunt for the five-eighth role.
Next week the Storm travel to Sydney to face the Bulldogs in what should be a cracker game. The Dogs who have already been robbed 4 premiership points this season will no doubt want to test themselves against the improving Melbourne side. Storm coach Craig Bellamy must be feeling the same way, tonight confirming this as his teams best 2009 performance – however the difference between the Canberra side of tonight and the in-form Bulldogs is a fair distance.
For the Raiders, coach David Furner must be regretting his decision to try the coaching thing – so far proving a major frustration for the rookie clipboard man. Canberra have a chance to atone, at home to the Warriors who were themselves out of sorts at the weekend.