Storm stands on the verge of history

Storm stands on the verge of history

By Lance Jenkinson

The longest winning streak in NRL history is under serious threat.

The rampaging Melbourne Storm have the record books in their sights after makingĀ it 18 wins in a row in a 26-16 victory over Canberra Raiders at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Thursday night.

The Storm has closed to within one game of the Eastern Suburbs Roosters, who achieved a competition-record 19 consecutive wins in 1975.

The Craig Bellamy-coached Storm can equal the Roosters record against the Gold Coast Titans in round 23.

Melbourne lost forward Dale Finucune to concussion early, but still managed to take a 20-4 advantage into half time.

It was Canberra who scored first through winger Bailey Simonsson, who exploited a weak right side defence from the Storm.

Simonsson would end the game with a hat-trick of tries, leaving Bellamy with some questions to mull over the composition of that side of the defensive line.

While Simonsson opened the scoring, it was not long before the top-of-the-ladder Storm began to flex their muscle.

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Hooker Brandon Smith found a gaping hole in the Raiders defence and scored for the Storm out of dummy half.

Young winger Dean Ieremia produced a scintillating 52-metre try, burning off two Raiders chasers.

Forward Chris Lewis made it three tries in a row for the Storm, catching the Raiders defence napping and scoring under the posts.

The Storm seemed to be in cruise control at half time, holding a 16-point lead, but Canberra refused to wave the white flag.

The Raiders have a top eight spot to chase and their play in the second half showed their appetite to play finals.

Jack Wighton was a spark plug for the Raiders, while Jordan Rapana was a constant threat, racking up 176 run metres.

The rugged defence of Josh Hodgson, who had a game-high 44 tackles, stopped the Storm in their tracks.

As momentum swung in favour of the Raiders, Simonsson helped himself to two more tries, one off the back of a piece of magic by Wighton and the other after a terrible error from Ieremia.

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With the game on the line, Canberra’s Corey Harawira-Naera produced an ugly tackle on Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes, which landed Harawira-Naera in the sin bin and Hughes in the arm’s of the trainers for a head injury assessment.

The result of the crude tackle was a penalty to the Storm from close range and Ryan Papenhuyzen converted to put the game out of reach.

Harawire-Naera will face scrutiny from the judiciary, while Hughes will need to be passed fit to play in what could be a historic day in NRL history when the Storm tackle the Titans next round.

Brandon Smith, who copped a number of knocks but fought on bravely, was a tireless worker for the Storm, while Cameron Munster dug deep into his bag of tricks to unlock the Raiders defence.

Christian Welch was the pick of the Storm forwards with 166 run metres.

Lance Jenkinson

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