The Melbourne Storm picked up yet another impressive away victory as they saw off the Canberra Raiders in a scrappy affair in the capital.
There is also a big injury concern for the Raiders as Josh Hodgson hobbled off in the first half with what looks to be an ACL injury, which would rule the Raiders' captain out for the rest of the season.
Story of the match
The Storm have been in fine form since the restart but their recent form against the Raiders hadn't been great, losing their last three meetings against the Green Machine, including a 22-6 defeat in Round Three.
The hosts were playing in front of their own fans for a second consecutive week but those fans had their head in their hands in the eighth minute when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's error allowed the Storm to take an early lead.
It came after Jahrome Hughes played a perfectly weighted grubber kick in behind but it was one that Nicoll-Klokstad should've dealt with however he misjudged the weight of the kick and in waiting for the ball to run dead, Brenko Lee snuck in to touch down. Cameron Smith added the extras to give the visitors an early 6-0 advantage.
The response from the host was positive though and, after battering at the Storm's line with four or five consecutive sets, they finally got the breakthrough that there pressure warranted as Josh Papalli collected a flat pass five metres out and powered his way over, spinning between two tackles to score. Jarrod Croker levelled the scores from the tee.
Controversy followed shortly after as the Raiders five Bailey Simmonsson was sent to the bin for 10 minutes after he was deemed to have obstructed Josh Addo-Carr as the winger attempted to get on the end of Ryley Jack's grubber. It looked to be a harsh call from the bunker.
It was a call that did not go down well with Raiders head coach Ricky Stuart, who then watched on as Josh Hodgson hobbled off the field after twisting his knee when attempting grab hold of Cam Smith. The early signs aren't promising for the hooker, who looks set for another extended spell on the sidelines.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts as Addo-Carr then went over in the corner as the Storm made their man advantage count. It was a perfectly executed play as Jesse Bromwich played the ball to Ryan Papenhuyzen who then found the overlapping Addo-Carr who got over for his fourth try in his last five. 2/2 from the tee for Cam Smith as the hosts six-point lead was reinstalled. That would be the final score of the first half as the Storm took a narrow lead into the sheds.
The Raiders were looking for a quick start to the second half but they didn't get it, instead an error from Dunamis Lui handed the Storm a penalty bang in front from 10 metres out. They opted for the two and Smith made no mistake. An eight-point lead and a two-score ballgame.
The games turning point came shortly after. A fine attacking set by the Raiders ended with Elliott Whitehead breaking through the line and crashing over, or so he thought. A fine spot by the referee as he spotted a knock-on by Whitehead as he bounced over the line. The Bunker agreed as the Storm survived.
Five minutes later and it was another showreel moment from Papenhuyzen as the Storm looked to have put the game to bed. Fresh off his 35-metre drop goal heroics last week, Papenhuyzen scooped up the ball on his own 20, somehow managed to put on the breaks to stay in the field of play before putting on the afterburners to fly through a gap in the Raiders line, running 80 metres to touch down under the sticks. Smith continued his perfect form with the boot to make it 20-6 with 20 minutes to go.
The Raiders continued to push for a way back into the game and did so with just over 10 minutes to go. Nick Cotric getting over in the corner after some fine work from Croker. The outside-back couldn't add the extras as the Storms lead stayed at ten with ten to go.
The lead was reduced further when Nicoll-Klokstad touched down in the corner with 60 seconds to go but there proved to be no miracle comeback as the Storm held on for the win.
What's next for both sides?
The Storm will be back on home turf when they welcome the Gold Coast Titans next Friday.
Meanwhile, the luck doesn't get any better for the Raiders as they travel to Sydney to take on the Sydney Roosters in a repeat of last season's Grand Final.