Attention NRL. Remember the name George Williams. The English import has announced himself as one of the competition’s premier playmakers. He isn’t here to fit in with the competition, he is here to own it.
The Storm were murdered in their own home, Williams DNA strewn across the crime scene. His fingerprints on heart-stopping tries. His blood on clutch and courageous try savers. He was ominous.
It wasn’t only a one man show for Canberra, words can’t describe the magnitude of their second half defensive effort. They made 43 tackles in their defensive 20, 27 of those in the second half alone.
Their desperation and will power transforming them into an impenetrable force that wouldn’t surrender. Even Craig Bellamy’s genius could find no answers for their sheer want to win.
The Storm were stunned in the opening minutes, and they would never recover. Playing uncharacteristically all night to say the least.
Jarrod Croker with a quick catch and release to extra man Jordan Rapana on the wing, waltzing through for a try would open the scoring. The first chapter of an enthralling narrative.
Canberra would score twice more before the half, both tries crafted in the George Williams workshop.
The first, Williams throwing a huge looping floater to Nick Cotric on the wing. His pass was such a bold and confident one it was almost arrogant, yet thrown with such precision it was a stamp of authority.
And the second, Williams showing off his foot skills breaking the Storm line with a show and go before passing in to Nicoll-Klokstad who would slide home under the posts.
After Papenhuyzen narrowly missed the grounding on his try attempt, and lots of Storm attacking, they would also score on of their own. Papenhuyzen, who had an electric first half, sliced through the Raiders off their goal line drop out. A set of quick play the balls had Canberra’s defence scrambling and Dale Finucane would take it over the line. Storm trailing 18-6 at half time.
Amazingly in the first half, the Storm were pressing forward much more than their opponents, they just couldn’t make it count like the Raiders did. This tale would be innocuous with the game, intensifying in the second half as Melbourne were constantly on the front foot, yet never able to capitalise.
Cameron Smith took a quick tap and go and put them a few metres out, yet Tino Faasuamaleaui spilt the footy.
Jesse Bromwich’s outstretched arm was tantalisingly close to four points. Although with his arm in a compromised position he was vulnerable, Williams taking advantage and knocking the ball loose.
Max King fumbled a pass and knocked on in the attacking 20
With each passing minute the Storm grew more frantic, and more unlike themselves. Bellamy was pacing the coaches box, out of ideas.
George Williams kept getting key touches in defence for Canberra, audaciously coming off his line and knocking down a pass to Addo-Carr that would’ve resulted in a certain try had it found his hands. Not to mention he delivered a ferocious hit to Papenhuyzen, expertly dumping him .
Josh Papalii (left centre) celebrates with Raiders teammates in his 200th game
Nelson Asofa-Solomona had a brain explosion, trying to grubber to himself on the 4th tackle, wasting yet another precious chance.
Justin Olam bulldosed his way comfortably into the in-goal, Storm fans out of their seats ready to celebrate. Only to be remarkably held up, the green machine’s desperation shining through.
The Raider’s stripping game was enviable. Dunamis Lui stripping Papenhuyzen. Josh Hodgson also stripped Jesse Bromwich mere metres away from the goal line.
With less than four minutes left Hodgson roosted a 40-20 kick deep out of defensive territory. Further demoralising a now dejected Storm outfit.
Fittingly, it was man of the moment George Williams to spark what would be the finishing touch on a historic night. Dummy kicking to open up space, allowing the green wave to surf down field. Using two kicks they unanimously flowed to the in-goal area where a beneficial bounce would fall into the sliding path of Joseph Tapine, taking the final scoreline to 22-6.
Tapine scrambling to ice the cake on a Raiders victory
Even though the second half was scoreless until the final minute. The play was fast flowing and the standard impeccable, making for gripping viewing. Defensively, Canberra’s second half was flawless, but they made a few flustered errors with ball in hand that kept the Storm coming at them.
Regardless, Canberra were much more effective in attack, scoring four tries to one with just 45% possession. Admirably, they absorbed the Storm’s constant pressure yet didn’t let it fatigue them to a point where they couldn’t be effective in attack, speaking volumes about their fitness levels.
The Williams inspired Raiders win was also their third straight against the Storm at AAMI Park, an incomprehensible feat. Canberra completely shut down the Storm on their home turf, and haven’t conceded more than six points all season, making them a serious forced to be reckoned with.