Raiders thrash below-par Origin struck Storm
Sat, 07 Jul 2012 11:45p.m.
Melbourne's State of Origin period has become a state of emergency.
Canberra's stunning 40-12 NRL upset of a well below-par Storm at AAMI Park on Saturday night - led by winger Edrick Lee's hat-trick of tries - has left the ladder leaders teetering with three losses in their past four matches.
The Storm have lost three of their six matches played during this season's Origin period.
Without skipper Cameron Smith, who was pulled out of the team following his Origin exertions this week, and injured Billy Slater, the Storm were smashed from kick-off by a brilliant Raiders performance spearheaded by centre Blake Ferguson and fullback Reece Robinson.
The visitors were 10-0 up inside 11 minutes with tries to Ferguson and Robinson - the latter set up by the fullback with a superb bat back to winger Sandor Earl for a 40-metre run before Robinson was on hand to receive the return pass.
Storm centre Justin O'Neill pulled a try back in the 16th minute but the expected Melbourne fightback never came.
Instead the Raiders kept pressuring the Storm with free-flowing attack and broke open a paper-thin defence seemingly at will.
Robinson was again the creator in the 26th minute to send Lee over in the corner for his first four-pointer.
Three minutes later, Ferguson brushed off two attempted Storm tackles before unloading to Earl for another try and a 20-6 lead.
O'Neill had his and the Storm's second try on the stroke of halftime, and Gareth Widdop's conversion sent Melbourne into halftime flattered at only 20-12 down.
The Raiders took just two minutes after the break to extend their lead and start making things embarrassing, with Lee over for his second try after a superb long pass from five-eighth Josh McCrone.
Further tries to Jarrod Croker, Earl and Lee stamped the Raiders' dominance and belied their 13th place on the ladder going into the match.
They also kept the Storm scoreless for the second half, though the home side created little of note.
The victory gives the Raiders back-to-back wins after they beat the Dragons last Monday night.
Melbourne remain top of the ladder, but they are now just one win clear of the Bulldogs.
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