Cameron Munster of the Storm looks on during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Canberra Raiders. Photo / Getty Images.
The Canberra Raiders have pulled off the unthinkable, becoming just the fourth team in the NRL era to win from eighth, knocking out the Melbourne Storm 28-20 in Melbourne.
The result sets up a juicy clash against the Parramatta Eels next weekend while the Storm will ponder what went wrong in 2022.
The Storm missed a top four spot for just the third time since 2006, which includes the 2010 season where they won the wooden spoon as a result of their salary cap scandal and were knocked out the back door in the elimination final.
The result is the Storm’s earliest exit since 2014 in what has been an incredible period of dominance from the club.
The lead changed hands five times throughout the match and it looked as though the Storm were going to come home strong when Nelson Asofa-Solomona burst across the line with a barnstorming run to take a 20-16 lead with 24 minutes left.
But the Raiders responded when Hudson Young scored after a controversial call which could really have gone either way.
A kick over the top saw Canberra’s Sebastian Kris in chase as Melbourne’s Cameron Munster went up to defuse the kick.
Referee Grant Atkins called it a knock on from Munster but the Storm appealed, claiming Munster was tackled in the air.
As the replay came up, Fox Sports’ Dan Ginanne said “Good luck”, adding it was an “enormous call”.
It was tough to see as Kris’ eye never came off the ball but when Munster flew to catch it, the Raiders center braced himself, sending the Storm star crashing to the turf.
“I’m still not sure what the difference is, it was a penalty in the first half,” Michael Ennis said.
On Channel 9, Phil Gould said: “I tell you has got no idea at the moment, that is the bunker. It can’t be anything but off side. The ball goes forward.”
It could have seen a penalty go Melbourne’s way for tackled in the air, a penalty go the Raiders way for offside, a scrum 10m out for a knock on from the Storm or a line drop out as Grant was tackled in-goal.
But it was ruled to have been knocked back and Grant tackled in goal.
Young’s try gave the Raiders the lead, but the match was sealed off Kris’ forehead when Jordan Rapana scored via a falcon.
Going through the hands, fullback Xavier Savage shuffled the ball straight into the head of Kris.
A falcon is not deemed to be played at and the Raiders put the ball down for the try, much to the delight of fans online.
The result is the fifth straight win by the Raiders in Melbourne.
“A momumental upset,” Dan Ginnane said in commentary.
“It is usually mission impossible but they have now beaten them at their own game,” Yvonne Sampson added of the Raiders’ win in Melbourne.
After the match, Bellamy blamed the loss of the side’s defense but said it’d been a tough year.
“It’s disappointing, it has been a hard year, a long year with the injuries we’ve had and a few other things happening,” Bellamy said.
“I thought the boys did a good job to finish where we finished but to go out of that performance is a bit disappointing.”
Bellamy said the Storm weren’t alone in injury dramas throughout the season and didn’t want that to get the blame for the performance.
Captain Jesse Bromwich said the result “pretty much summed up our season”, saying the side was “inconsistent, did some good things and did some really soft things”.
Bromwich who is a group of players moving on at the end of the season for the Dolphins, said: “I’m really going to miss this place”.