Player Ratings: The makeshift halfback who upstaged Origin star in finals clinic
Now the makeshift halfback is upstaging Clive Churchill Medallists on the biggest stage in front of 37,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Here are our player ratings from Melbourne’s 30-10 victory over Canberra on Friday night.
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Smith chaired out of Suncorp1:53
STORM by Mark St John
1. RYAN PAPENHUYZEN 8
The speedster scored the second try of the night in a sizzling start. Set up the fourth try for Justin Olam with a timely grubber. Finished with over 100 metres for the Storm and looked dangerous from start to finish.
2. SULIASI VUNIVALU 7
Scored the third try of the night inside the first 10 minutes to cap a brilliant five-minute period for the Storm. Finished with 130 metres, the most by a Melbourne player.
3. BRENKO LEE 6
Limited opportunities in attack, but fixed his defensive issues in a faultless first half. Made an excellent cover tackle on Valemei in the second half. Was placed on report for a high tackle on Valemei, but overall one of his better games.
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Bateman's emotional farewell0:46
4. JUSTIN OLAM 7
Made Nick Cotric pay to pounce on a Papenhuyzen grubber and score the fourth try of the first half for his side. However he made three missed tackles, with one leading to Cotric’s first try.
5. JOSH ADDO-CARR 8
His break set up Ryan Papenhuyzen for the second try of the night. Had two linebreaks and a try assist in a blistering start on the flank. Looked to have scored in the 20th minute but was inexplicably robbed by the bunker. Was one of the best players on the field.
6. CAMERON MUNSTER 7
Was outshone by his halves partner in the first half, but the focus on him from the Raiders defence allowed room for his outside backs to work their magic. Got his running game going in the second half.
Does THIS show Smith choice?0:29
7. JAHROME HUGHES 9
A linebreak assist and two try assists early in a brilliant opening for the Storm halfback. Made plenty of metres and a couple of half breaks that put the Raiders on the back foot. The best player on the field.
8. JESSE BROMWICH 8
Charged onto the ball to score the first try of the night in the fifth minute to cap a dominant start for the Storm. Faultless in defence in the first half. Ran for nearly 100 metres in the engine room.
9. CAMERON SMITH 8
Underplayed his hand beautifully to give his runners plenty of time to make inroads in the Raiders defensive line. Defensively sound as always. Hooked a brilliant kick for Vunivalu that nearly produced a try. Made a game high 32 tackles including a try-saver on Cotric that was called ‘the greatest play of his career’.
10. CHRISTIAN WELCH 7
Solid first stint upfront for the Storm to set the tone with his front row partner. Finished with the most metres for a Storm forward.
Storm score after sus pass!0:36
11. FELISE KAUFUSI 7
Dynamic in the early stages and brutal in defence. Had 15 tackles in the first half alone. Put his body on the line with a tackle on Semi Valemei.
12. KENEATH BROMWICH 6
Had a linebreak assist in the first half. Limited opportunities with ball in hand but was on the ball in defence with 11 tackles by halftime.
13. NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA 7
Some inspired charges early for the Storm after starting at lock. Attracted two or three defenders every time he ran the ball, which put the Raiders on the back foot. Suffered a leg injury in the second half but battled on. Had a couple of missed tackles as he tired.
14. BRANDON SMITH 8
Came on earlier than usual and was dominant in the first half running for plenty of metres and was solid as ever in defence. Ran for the most metres by a Storm forward but came off injured before halftime. Started the second half but earned an early shower.
STORM warning! 3 tries 5 mins1:25
15. TINO FAASUAMALEAUI 6
Brilliant off the bench with some excellent charges in his first stint. Made 10 tackles with no misses in an excellent first half cameo. Limited opportunities in the second.
17. NICHO HYNES 5
Only came on late when Smith got an early shower, but held his own in a small cameo.
18. DALE FINUCANE 7
Came on late in the first half and was solid as ever in defence making 10 tackles in limited minutes with no misses. Was forced back in the in-goal off the second half kick-off. Excellent considering he hasn’t played since Round 14.
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RAIDERS by Simon Brunsdon
1. CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD 6
Was off the field briefly for a head injury assessment in the first half. Couldn’t find his rhythm in attack and was found out of position a couple times in defence. Had minus 1 post-contact metre, pointing to his struggles.
Storm Press Conference17:02
2. SEMI VALEMEI 4.5
Poor under the high ball and a drop led directly to Melbourne’s third try in that frantic start. Was beaten to a high one by his opposing winger Suliasi Vunivalu which resulted in another try in the second half. Four errors all up and a night to forget, although he did improve slightly in the second half.
3. JARROD CROKER 5.5
A shocker of a first half with a couple of missed tackles and some bad communication with his winger Valemei. The captain will want this one back.
4. JORDAN RAPANA 4.5
Had a shocker at right centre. Couldn’t get into the game in attack and was thrown into touch by Josh Addo-Carr at one point. Also missed three tackles.
5. NICK COTRIC 5
Had some shocking moments in defence early in the contest and looked overawed. Made amends of sorts when he scored their first try with a strong push to the line. Directly allowed Justin Olam to score with an error.
6. JACK WIGHTON 6
Given his red hot form coming into the clash Wighton was a little quiet. He’s shown he can star in big games, with a Clive Churchill Medal in last year’s grand final. On Friday night he couldn’t find his mojo.
Raiders Press Conference2:14
7. GEORGE WILLIAMS 7
Looked their most likely in the second half when the comeback was on. Put in some beautiful kicks in play and did set up the Cotric try.
8. JOSH PAPALII 7
Only had four runs but was one of their better players during that early Melbourne onslaught, making 14 tackles. Could only get 79 run metres on the board but that included three tackle busts and two offloads.
14. SILIVA HAVILI 6
Called on to start the game to provide a bigger body in the middle. Looked slow out of dummy half and threw some bad passes. Eventually taken off for Tom Starling to come into the action.
16. HUDSON YOUNG 6.5
Moved into the starting pack and brought some energy in the first half but missed three tackles and was probably luckily not to be reported for a crusher tackle, albeit accidental, on Tino Fa’asuamalaeaui. Was aggressive and showed more than many of his teammates.
11. JOHN BATEMAN 7
Held up that right edge defence and didn’t miss a tackle all night. Could have provided a bit more in attack and was caught a couple of times when he should have passed to his outside men.
12. ELLIOT WHITEHEAD 5.5
A poor first half where he dropped the ball on the last tackle and also missed two tackles. Not one of his better performances.
13. JOSEPH TAPINE 6.5
Well down on last week’s performance but was made to do a load of work in defence and kept muscling up. Couldn’t create the spark in attack they needed.
9. TOM STARLING 6
Was benched and then didn’t make an appearance until the 58th minute. Showed why he should have been there from the start, running for 50 metres with three offloads and a linebreak assist in his limited time on the park.
10. IOSIA SOLIOLA 6
Some strong carries and tried to fire up his team. A decent game from the veteran on a bad night.
15. DUNAMIS LUI 5.5
Played a role in the middle but missed three tackles and couldn’t dig them out of a hole.
17. COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA 6.5
Was impressive off the bench with three tackle busts and four offloads. Looked dangerous in attack and could have broken the Storm open with some strong runs.
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