The Canberra Raiders have sent an ominous warning to the rest of the competition and maintained their unbeaten start to the season with an impressive 22-6 victory over Melbourne at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
It was the Raiders' third win of the season and the third time in a row they have beaten the Storm at AAMI Park, coming on the back of victories in week one of last year's finals and round 22 of 2019.
Ricky Stuart's side showed no signs of rustiness following the enforced lay-off, with English duo George Williams and Josh Hodgson in sublime form and big man Josh Papalii producing a stormer in his 200th NRL game.
Williams had a hand in two tries as the Raiders opened up an 18-6 lead at half-time and his defence came to the fore in the second term as the home side threw everything at last year's runners-up.
Match Highlights: Storm v Raiders
The Storm lacked cohesion in attack and some sloppy errors when close to the line meant they were only able to complete 26 of their 39 sets (67 percent) in comparison to the Raiders' 74 percent.
It didn't take long for the new six-again rule to impact the game, with the Raiders on the front foot on their first set courtesy of a Kenny Bromwich infringement in the ruck.
It provided the visitors with the early impetus they needed and late inclusion Jordan Rapana crossed over out wide to help give the Raiders the ascendancy and a 6-0 lead.
Williams breaks the Storm through the middle to set up Nicoll-Klokstad
Williams was the architect shortly after as the halfback cut out two defenders with a sublime pass to put Nick Cotric over in the corner.
Dale Finucane got the Storm on the board on the half hour mark but just as it appeared they were working their way back into the contest another piece of magic from Williams saw Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad score under the posts to make it 18-6.
Hodgson diffused a situation close to the line to stop Tino Fa'asuamaleaui with 20 minutes remaining, before Williams did similar to Jesse Bromwich as the Storm looked bereft of ideas.
Hodgson produced a trademark one-on-one strip when the Storm threatened again during the closing stages, before unleashing a clever 40-20 kick moments later to add to his highlight reel.
Such was the Storm’s frustration that prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona tried to put in a grubber on just the fourth tackle and turned over possession meekly to the Raiders.
Canberra’s last-ditch defence was outstanding, with Tapine producing a miraculous tackle to deny Justin Olam six minutes from full-time.
Tapine then capped the win at the other end, pouncing on a Cotric kick to score in the final minute as the Raiders celebrated a 3-0 start to a season for the first time since 2005.