A first-half hat trick from Fijian flyer Suliasi Vunivalu helped the Storm power to a 22-10 win over Canberra at GIO Stadium on Friday.
Vunivalu opened his account in the eighth minute courtesy of a sweet pass from fullback Jahrome Hughes. He was in again 10 minutes later when Brodie Croft threaded a grubber kick through for his winger to collect untouched.
With the match barely 30 minutes old Vunivalu had the fifth hat trick of his career when centre Curtis Scott laid a try on a platter for him.
The possession evened up in the second half as Canberra scored twice through Jarrod Croker as the Green Machine threatened to pull off an amazing comeback in front of 14,031 fans.
However, the Raiders were unable to score when the opportunities presented and the Storm were able to control the tempo of the game to seal the victory.
Match: Raiders v Storm
Round 2 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
- LIVE PASS
The Raiders struggled to get out of their own half early in the game and when they did venture deep into the Storm danger zone, errors curtailed their efforts to trim the deficit.
Croker showed his defensive grit after pulling off two try-saving tackles in as many attempts in the 16th minute, as the Storm continued to pour on the pressure.
With 60 per cent of possession through the first 18 minutes, the Storm were always going to post points and with Cameron Smith calling the shots they looked every bit a premiership contender.
Vunivalu's first half hat-trick
Off the back of an obstruction penalty, the Raiders launched a desperate bid to score their first points of the half only to see it snuffed out by a swarming Storm defence.
A Curtis Scott mistake as a result of a Raiders gang-tackle saw the home side go on the attack early in the second stanza.
However, a turnover from Sia Soliola took some of the steam out of the Raiders' bid to overcome the 14-point margin.
Brandon Smith earned his side a penalty in the ruck right in front of the posts and Smith landed the penalty to make it 16-0.
Croker opened the home side's scoring thanks to excellent work from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and John Bateman who kept the ball alive.
The Canberra co-captain was unable convert his own try as the Raiders narrowed the lead to 16-4 in the 52nd minute.
Corey Horsburgh went ever so close to scoring his first NRL try but was held up and then Josh Papalii was also denied just inches short of the line on the last tackle.
Melbourne threw a counter-punch when Felise Kaufusi darted 60 metres after a spilt kick, allowing Nelson Asofa-Solomona to burrow his way over to make the score 22-4 with less than 20 minutes remaining.
Croker breathed life back into the home side after scooping up a loose ball close to the line and scoring out wide.
His conversion narrowed the gap to two converted tries with 13 minutes to go but the Storm remained composed to close out the win.