Fulltime: Finally, the misery is over. On a remarkable afternoon at Canberra Stadium, the Storm have belted a woeful Canberra Raiders 68-4. It's the Storm's equal biggest ever winning margin in its history, and the Raiders biggest ever loss. The Storm are now firmly back as a premiership contender, while the Raiders must somehow get off the canvas for Saturday night's clash with the ladder leading Sydney Roosters.
76min: Some of the worst defence you'll ever see from the Raiders. They've well and truly thrown in the towel as Waqa cruises over past a handful of defenders for yet another four-pointer. Smith converts. Storm 68; Raiders 4
73min: The Raiders have been absolutely hopeless today, but the Storm are showing why they can't be written off as premiership contenders. Even now they're attacking at every opportunity. There's another try or two on offer in the final six minutes.
66min: TRY: Embarrasing, pathetic, hopeless - load up any adjectives to describe the Raiders' performance. Sisa Waqa gets through some ordinary defence in a simple backline move. This is now the Raiders' greatest ever loss, the previous was 54-3 in their inaugural season in 1982. Smith converts. Storm 62; Raiders 4
61min: TRY: This is the stuff of nightmares. Turnstile defence from Jarrod Croker, gets an arm on Tohu Harris but gets swung round like he's on a vomitron and gets spun off. Harris strolls over to score. Smith converts. Storm 56; Raiders 4
55min: TRY: As I'm asked if there's a mercy rule, Slater dives under the posts for another easy try for the red-hot Storm. Full-time can't come quick enough for the hapless Raiders. Smith converts to bring up the half century. Storm 50; Raiders 4
49min: Cam Smith converts to extend the lead to 40 points. That equals the Storm's greatest winning margin ... and we've still got half an hour to go! Storm 44; Raiders 4
48min: TRY: Turn away Raiders fans - Will Chambers grabs an intercept and sprints 85m to continue the Storm on its memorable afternoon. Absolutely nothing going right for the Raiders as an ambitious cut-out pass rubs in more pain. Storm 42; Raiders 4 KTC
44min: The wheels are well and truly off the Raiders. They're now driving a beaten-up Kingswood with a few hundred thousand k's on the clock after kicking out on the full from the restart. Dear oh dear.
42min: The Storm are in again, and guess who? Of course it's magic Mahe. He'll get the prize for best late inclusion ever with his hat-trick. Give that one to Brett Finch, running at the line and throwing a great ball to his winger. Storm 36; Raiders 4 KTC
Here we go for the second half. Raiders fans can look away now - the biggest losing margin of 51 points set way back in 1982 is in danger. It's currently at 28 at the break. As for the Storm, they're biggest win is 40 points.
Good news for Maurice Blair. He won't be back for the second half, but it's been reported the Storm centre hasn't been seriously hurt with that neck injury.
Halftime: Should be an paint stripping off the walls sort of halftime talk from Raiders coach David Furner after that first 40 minutes. What do you say when your side trails 32-4 at the break? Mahe Fonua has been massive from the Storm, as has the big three of Cronk, Slater and Smith.
39min: TRY: Kevin Proctor scores and now it's an absolute belting! The Sideshow Bob lookalike gladly receives a great offload from former Raider Brett Finch close to the line. Raiders should have done better to wrap Finch up. Storm 30; Raiders 4 KTC
36min: Smith draws it back in nicely to nail the conversion. Storm 26; Raiders 4
35min: TRY: The Canberra Raiders will require a comeback of massive proportions to get back into this one. Soft goal-line defence as Slater burrows his way over from dummy-half for his 150th try of his career. Storm 24; Raiders 4 KTC
33min: Cam Smith misses the sideline conversion. Storm 20; Raiders 4
32min: TRY: And it's that man Mahe Fonua again, with a touch of Cooper Cronk brilliance thrown in. Fantastic vision by Cronk to spot the left-wing open and puts in a kick over the top for Fonua to pounce on. Storm 20; Raiders 4 KTC
31min: Call him magic Mahe! Fonua is having an absolute blinder, takes a screamer of a catch to defuse a high bomb from Campese directed for Sandor Earl.
25min: No, no, no, no, no! Beautiful play from McCrone to Wighton, and a lovely in and away from Wighton sets up Sandor Earl on the wing. But Earl's foot just goes into touch courtesy of desperate defence from Fonua. He's having a blinder.
23min: Cam Smith nails the conversion from the sideline. Storm 16; Raiders 6
22min: Take a bow, Mahe Fonua! In scenes going back to Greg Inglis's famous leap for the Kangaroos a few years ago to set up a try, Fonua grabs the ball in mid-air and flings it back over his head with Anthony Milford watching on. Will Chambers graciously accepts the easiest try he'll ever score. Storm 14; Raiders 6 KTC
Embarrassing defence from the raiders — Daniel Briggs (@DanielBriggs21) August 4, 2013
20min: We've got a possible Raiders try and a second to Anthony Milford. Doesn't look like one on the replays, as Croker has knocked it on before Milford touches down. NO TRY
19min: That's a crazy sequence of events as the Raiders end up on the attack. McCrone's kick is snapped up by Brett Finch, who gives to Slater and then Fonua, who loses control and gifts possession back to the Raiders.
Soft try. But both teams looking very sharp with ball. Quality game so far. #nrl — Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) August 4, 2013
15min: TRY: Cronk's kick to the right wing is batted back and kept alive, before being swung to the left. It ends up the hands of the powerfully-built Fonua, who uses his tree trunk like legs to barge past three Raiders defenders and plant the ball down. Smith misses the conversion. Storm 10; Raiders 4
13min: A quick reshuffle from the Melbourne Storm with Blair off the field. Will Chambers moves to left centre and Tohu Harris goes to right centre.
12min: A lot of time being taken with the care of Maurice Blair and rightly so. Very sad to see him leave the ground on the medicab.
12min: Geez, that's a really ugly neck injury to Storm centre Maurice Blair. A lot of concern by officials as Blair's body contorts in hitting the ground in a tackle from Sandor Earl and Jack Wighton. Nothing illegal in the tackle, just one of those very unfortunate ones. The medicab is on and we've got a delay in the game.
11min: An absolute mess there on the last tackle. I'm not sure how the Storm got out of that one without conceding again. They survive a dangerous Campese bomb. Storm 6; Raiders 4
7min: TRY: What you can do, we can do better! This was all Anthony Milford, the livewire fullback finding touch from the kick-off before slicing his way through the defence. No wonder he's in demand from the Brisbane Broncos. Croker misses the conversion. Storm 6; Raiders 4
5min: TRY: A mountain of pressure pays off for the Storm as Sisa Waqa opens the scoring. After the Storm got their fourth set on the Raiders line after Jarrod Croker's knock-down off a Slater pass, a simple switch to the right results in the Fijian finding a bit of space. Storm 4; Raiders 0
2min: It's Melbourne's first set and we're going upstairs for a video referee decision. Cam Smith launches a cross-field kick, which Raiders winger Sandor Earl and Mahe Fonua contest in the air. Fonua looks like he's fumbled the ball into Earl, but Maurice Blair gets his hands on it. And it's NO TRY! The original decision by the on-field referee is upheld. The Raiders ruled to have stole the ball one on one and it's a Storm scrum 10m out.
We're away, with David Shillington taking the first hit-up for the Raiders.
Noted enforcer Mark Geyer gives his approval of Terry Campese's newly-shaven head in the name of charity. Campo celebrates his 29th birthday today, and has raised more than $8000 so far after undergoing the razor on Friday.
Campo yes! Welcome to the gang. #nudenuts— Mark Geyer (@markMGgeyer) August 4, 2013
Brett White goes into the starting side for the Raiders up against his old side. That moves the giraffe, Dane Tilse, back as an interchange weapon off the bench.
Send me your thoughts during the game on Twitter: @Lee_Gaskin1 and I'll try and get the best ones up on the blog.
Warm-ups are all done and we're only a few minutes away from kick-off. The Raiders are massive underdogs despite winning their past 12 games at Canberra Stadium. Could have something to do with an angry Melbourne Storm aiming to get their season back on track. The Storm also have a great record in Canberra, having won 10 of their past 11 in the national capital. My tip: Storm by 10.
Wighton is a nice in for the Raiders. Had a big game down in Melbourne earlier this year. Thompson much more effective 2nd row. #nrlcanmel — Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) August 4, 2013
#Canberra #Raiders on the field for the warm up! Drizzling and freezing! Welcome to Canberra, Melbourne! http://t.co/DEbVlJEtaG — The Greenhouse (@TheGHRaiders) August 4, 2013
#mahedinmelbourne out warming up at the moment. Not long till kick off!! #purplepride pic.twitter.com/YQTkMCGQvp — Melbourne Storm (@MelbourneStorm) August 4, 2013
NSW State of Origin star Blake Ferguson is likely to make his Raiders comeback in next Saturday's massive clash with the ladder-leading Sydney Roosters. Ferguson turned out in the NSW Cup for the second straight week yesterday.
The Raiders face the most difficult run into the finals, with five of the top six teams in the competition and the unpredictable New Zealand Warriors in Auckland in the way. Here's what the Raiders make of their tough draw.
The perfect start for the Raiders, with their under-20s moving three points clear at the top of the National Youth Competition ladder with a 46-22 thumping of the Melbourne Storm. Jack Ahearn had a blinder and winger Jonathon Reuben scored a double, including a sensational 95m effort. The Storm have now lost five straight games, but remain eighth on the ladder.
A big boost for the Raiders, with centre Jack Wighton returning from a groin injury for his first game since round 16. Joel Thompson moves to the interchange bench and Jarrad Kennedy is omitted.
Three changes for the Melbourne Storm for today's game. Mahe Fonua in No 20 replaces Justin O'Neill on the wing, and Kenny Bromwich (number 18) and Jordan McLean (number 19) replace Siosaia Vave and Slade Griffin on the bench.
Canberra v Melbourne Storm at Canberra Stadium, 2pm
Head to Head: Raiders 9 Storm 23
Last clash: Round 8 2013 - Raiders 24 bt Storm 20 at AAMI Park
Playing at their fortress, the Raiders will fancy their chances of continuing the premiers’ post-Origin blues with a 13th straight win in the national capital. With three wins on the trot, the seventh-placed Raiders are travelling so comfortably that coach David Furner has resisted the temptation to rush backline star Blake Ferguson back from exile.
Ferguson scored for Mounties in the NSW Cup in his first match since being suspended by the NRL for his costly late-night drinking session before Origin II. He still may get a late call-up, but the Raiders may not need him to conquer the Storm, who have lost their past two games to slip to fourth.
Key: Canberra’s home record this season is as intimidating as the NRL has to offer, but the Storm are used to chilly weather and will be desperate to reverse their run of outs.