Melbourne Storm thrashes Canberra Raiders 48-2 in huge top-four statement

Melbourne has dealt a setback to Canberra's NRL top-four prospects with a 48-2 win at AAMI Park.

Melbourne has dealt a setback to Canberra's NRL top-four prospects with a 48-2 win at AAMI Park. Photo: AAP

Melbourne NRL coach Craig Bellamy says his side drew a line in the sand before a 48-2 smashing of Canberra which left counterpart Ricky Stuart labelling the Raiders’ performance as “really, really embarrassing” and “crap”.

Storm jumped back inside the top four and effectively ended the Raiders’ hopes of a double chance in the finals, piling on nine unanswered tries – all from different scorers.

The thrashing could have even more dire consequences for the Raiders, who are just a game inside the top eight with their woeful points differential weighing them down further.

It’s the Raiders’ fifth loss this season by 22 points or more, with Stuart admitting he was lost for words by the shocking outing in such an important match.

“It wasn’t tough at all, it was just embarrassing. (I’m) absolutely embarrassed,” he said.

“I don’t think I can say much more than that, to be honest. It was just a really, really embarrassing performance. We went away after 20 minutes.

“We weren’t prepared to fight for the 80. They were fighting for top-four spots today and (we) deliver up that crap. That’s the embarrassing part about it.”

Remarkably, it’s the first time in 253 matches the Raiders haven’t scored a try, which counts as an NRL record streak.

Their embarrassing display became even worse with two soft late tries.

Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster crossed untouched before fullback Nick Meaney did much the same as the margin ballooned.

Canberra finished the game with 11 men after fullback Jordan Rapana was sin-binned for holding down Nelson Asofa-Solomona before centre Matt Timoko joined his teammate for a high shot.

Melbourne has leap-frogged Cronulla into fourth on the table with games to come against the Dolphins (14th) and Gold Coast (13th) providing an opportunity to shore up a double chance before a final-round blockbuster against Brisbane.

It was a classy response to its 26-6 loss to Penrith last weekend, with Bellamy saying his team had decided it wouldn’t continue to accept half-hearted build-ups to games.

“(It was) the best preparation we’ve had in a few weeks, a couple of months probably,” he said.

“We drew a line a bit earlier in the week to be quite honest. The guys decided this is the way we wanted to go.

“(You’re) never guaranteed you’re going to play like that when you change a couple things, but we played really well.

“We built our game on our defence and that’s a bit of old-school Melbourne Storm.”

Second-rower Eliesa Katoa was damaging as Storm took control early, finding a clever try assist for centre Reimis Smith before diving over for his own to put them 20-2 clear late in the first half.

Any hope of a Canberra comeback was snuffed early in the second term, as second-rower Trent Loiero powered to the line before Meaney broke through and allowed Harry Grant to cruise over for 32-2.

Canberra was up for the contest early and controlled possession in the first half but looked clunky when they shifted the ball out wide and were punished by a Storm side that looked far more clinical in attack.

The Raiders’ terrible points differential plummets even lower to -120 and it could easily keep them out of the finals.

They play Canterbury next before tough matches against Brisbane and Cronulla to close the season.

Their shocking weekend could still grow worse, with Rapana in danger of suspension for a trip on Smith that would leave Canberra searching for a new No.1 yet again.


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