Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu

It was all about the flying Fijian in Suliasi Vunivalu as the Melbourne Storm maintained their undefeated start to 2019 with a win over the Canberra Raiders. 

Playing away from home at GIO Stadium, the 22-10 victory was led by a hat-trick for Vunivalu.

Making plays or running great lines, this was Vunivalu’s first hat-trick since late 2017.

After a nice play down the right, Vunivalu opened the scoring for the Storm to kickstart their early dominance.

Just ten minutes later, he was in again for the Storm, this time winning the race off a Brodie Croft grubber.

Then, within 30 minutes, he finished off some good play by Curtis Scott to grab his third and hat-trick.

As the game wore on, the Raiders slowly fought their way back into the contest and even had a period of dominance.

New English recruit John Bateman enjoyed his stellar start, darting across field and finding Jarrod Croker for the Raiders first try and points.

Just when it looked like the Raiders would score again, the Storm needed just one chance to put it all to bed.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona proved the adage that big men are ‘too big and too strong’ and powered his way over to score.

A second Croker try provided the faintest hope for the Raiders but it was not to be.

The win puts the Storm on top and makes five wins on the trot against Canberra.

Although his side lost, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says it was the smaller things that cost his side and they can be fixed.

“There was a couple of little team errors rather than team structure and they’re easily fixed,” Stuart said.

“Nicky [Cotric] wasn’t in the line or Charnze [Nicoll-Klokstad] came up out of the line, they’re young guys, so those things are easily fixed.

“Structurally, overall, our defence [was good], take away a couple of those tries the one off the bomb where Jack [Wighton] threw the intercept like that is against the run of play.”

It was not all smiles for Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who was disappointed that his side let the Raiders back into the game in the fashion they did.

“It was really disappointing, we gave away a fifth-tackle penalty which basically turned the game,” Bellamy said.

“I thought we were pretty much in control and then they scored off that and we had to batten down the hatches.

“I have to give Canberra a lot of credit – it could have been easy for them to go away and say ‘this is a bit too hard tonight’ but they stuck to their guns and made us work for it”

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