Many moons ago, Magic: The Gathering commentator Rich Hagon was casting a game where one player shot out to a significant lead, but noted that the player had not done anything to win the game.

"The story", began Rich, "will be how long it took his opponent to lose, not that his opponent challenged him."

Which is a clumsy segue into the weekend's matchup, where Canberra, off the back of a hiding at the hands of traditional easy-beat Wests, were expected to lie down and take a beating.

Melbourne, having been without Cameron Munster all year, and missing Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen (spelt it right first time, I just need you to know that), still promised a reasonable thrashing for the Green Machine.

And, to Canberra's credit, they... didn't.

The Raiders handed out penalties and six-agains like candy, and at the end of the first half, finished with just 39% of the ball. The Storm had 20+ tackles in Canberra's red zone - and it wasn't until a cheeky short ball from Jahrome Hughes allowed Josh King to have a little nap in the in-goal.

Having heard about many of Ricky's half-time consultations, I knew the message would be that the game would eventually turn, and that Canberra would eventually be able to take full advantage of possession evening out.

Except it never did - Melbourne retained 60% of the ball in the second half, as the men in green completed at 66% - and apart from a fantastic individual effort from Kaeo Weeks, never looked close to winning.

Which brings me to the opening anecdote - yes, Canberra defended well against a well-drilled, star-studded Melbourne side.

But all they'd managed to do, is avoid losing. In attack, they couldn't hold on to the ball, and loudly and busily went nowhere fast. Even with a reasonably light forward pack, the Raiders couldn't get any separation.

And, of course, spare a thought for Jordan Martin who went on and lasted five minutes before tackling someone's hip and ending up in magical concussion christmasland.

It's not all doom and gloom - Ricky had a brainwave approximately an hour before the game and put Kaeo Weekes in at fullback, then rotated Adam Cook in to halfback - something that didn't save the game, but in my mind, seemed to increase Canberra's defensive potency. If it wasn't a wet track, and the men in green didn't have the yips, who knows what might've occurred.

Despite never coming close to winning the game, and clearly on the downturn that'll see them finish between 9th and 12th, I'm still happy with that effort. A very ugly 50+ loss was on the cards, judging by the performance the week before, and Ricky, once again, got a response out of his troops.

Putting the game aside for the moment, it looks like Nick Cotric and Elliott Whitehead are heading overseas to Super League side Catalans. Elliott to retire, Nick with the door closing at Canberra.

I feel bad for Nick, who is a local junior and played in Canberra rugby league clubs. He was a superstar in the making, and came so agonisingly close to fulfilling that potential. Then the Bulldogs, in their attempt to steady the ship, through half a million dollars at him for two years, and both sides hit the skids.

It's a cruel game, and Nick is the latest casualty in an ongoing battle for Rugby League's holy grail. Maybe he could win a premiership with Catalans.

That'd be alright.

This week sees Canberra at home taking on the Knights. Adam O is trying his best necromantic efforts to resurrect a Newcastle side without Kalyn Ponga, and results are... mixed. It could go either way.

Catch you next time,

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