Melbourne Storm’s Jersey Flegg campaign has come to a heartbreaking end after suffering a 20-16 defeat to the Canberra Raiders on Saturday afternoon.
A win or draw was what was required for Storm to book their place in the finals and despite a remarkable comeback from 16-0 down at halftime, a Canberra try in the final minute of play would ultimately dash Storm’s chances of a maiden finals berth.
Needing to find a response after a disappointing first 35-minutes, Storm came out firing in the second half, bringing themselves back from the brink thanks to tries from Deontae Perese, Jayden Weir and Mitch Jennings.
With the home crowd rallying around their side, Storm rode the wave of support and with scores now tied up at 16-16, looked destined to hold on for a hard-fought draw at home.
As the clock ticked into the final minutes, Canberra were afforded a full set attacking Storm’s line but were denied the lead after some desperation from Jerry Musu saw Mitch Henderson’s field goal attempt charged down.
Canberra secured possession from the charge down and ultimately landed the decisive blow as the clock ticked into the final minute, Henderson’s grubber falling into the path of Kane Rushton who got to the ball first as it looked destined for the dead ball line.
While they may have fallen just short of finals, Storm’s 2023 campaign still provided plenty of highlights, the side going on a six-game unbeaten run earlier in the season that included hard-fought wins over the Sharks and Bulldogs.
2023 also saw four Storm Academy players selected in the U19 QLD Maroons side, Stanley Huen, Gabriel Satrick, Angus Hinchey and Mitch Jennings all representing their state in July.
With a large portion of Storm’s squad eligible for U19 SG Ball selection this year, the experience gained by Storm’s young spine this season will no doubt put them in good stead to progress in leaps and bounds next season.