Footy Flashbacks: Melbourne 12-20 Canberra (2011)

Love Rugby League look at some past matches between the third round match ups in the NRL’s returning weekend. 

A further match in this series is Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders in round 10 of the 2011 NRL season.


Background

Melbourne 

The Storm came into this match in fine form with their only defeats coming against North Queensland and New Zealand Warriors which saw them occupy second position. 

As expected, they had been strong defensively with only the Cowboys and the Broncos managing to put more than 20 points past Craig Bellamy’s outfit. 

They had an excellent recent record against the Raiders, having not lost a home match to them since 2000 when they were defeated 16-20 at Olympic Park. 

Canberra

For the Raiders, this round 10 match up seemed to be the worst they could have asked for, especially considering their form, or lack thereof, that they came into it with. 

After a promising opening round victory over Cronulla, David Furner had seen his side then lose their eight matches – the worst run in the club’s history. 

A lack of try scoring threats were highlighted as they had only managed to post more than 20 points three times and had been nilled by Manly in their last outing.  


Melbourne 12-20 Canberra 

The Raiders shocked their in-form hosts as they struck within four minutes after a neat move led to winger Reece Robinson finishing impressively. 

If that led to a few discontented murmurs from the AAMI Park faithful, they would have been silent when Josh McCrone soon crashed over to make it 12 points in as many minutes. 

Eventually the hosts woke up and moments after saving a certain try, Billy Slater set up Matt Duffie as the Storm trailed by six at the break. 

The home side levelled in their first set of the second period with Kevin Proctor striding over and it seemed as if they would go on to claim the victory that many expected. 

However, Canberra hit the front from a Jarrod Crocker penalty and with just under 10 minutes remaining, there was still time for some Blake Ferguson magic.

The winger was fed the ball hugging the touchline and had seemingly nothing on but he deftly chipped over Dane Chisholm and re-gathered, avoiding going into touch by millimetres, to streak away and seal the win. 

Melbourne: Slater; Chisholm, Nielsen, M Blair, Duffie; Widdop, Cronk; J Bromwich, Smith, Norrie, A Blair, Proctor, Hinchcliffe. Subs: Lowrie, Woolnough, Lowe, Manu.

Canberra: Dugan; Ferguson, Croker, Thompson, Robinson; McCrone, Williams; Tilse, Tongue, White, Galea, Harrison, Fensom. Subs: Buttriss, Miller, Mataora, Papalii.


What happened next?

Melbourne

Melbourne bounced back from this surprise loss in spectacular form, winning their next 12 matches as they took a firm grip on the Minor Premiership.

This run included a rematch with the Raiders in round 19 where they won 26-0 in the capital which resulted in Canberra being nilled at home for the first time in their history. 

A theme of their season, the Storm were strong defensively during this streak with only three teams scoring more than 15 points against them. 

Despite two disappointing losses to Manly and the Roosters to close the regular season, Melbourne collected the Minor Premiership finishing two points ahead of the former. 

They beat Newcastle 18-8 in the qualifying final to set up a preliminary final with the Warriors.

In a surprise reversal, they fell to a 20-12 defeat to the sixth-placed team. 

Canberra

Canberra beat Canterbury by the same score in their following game but inconsistency dogged them until round 21 when they lost to the Warriors. 

Furner’s team finally found some consistency but in a bad way as they failed to record a win for the rest of the season, ending with six straight losses as they finished 15th.  

By Sam Harris

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