Canberra prevailed over Melbourne 20-12 in their first pre-season trial to give Ricky Stuart a winning start as coach. Copyright: Brett Crockford/NRL Photos. Credit: Brett Crockford/NRL Photos Copyright: Brett Crockford/NRL Photos
Ricky Stuart has made a winning start to his coaching career at Canberra with the Raiders rolling over Melbourne 20-12 in their NRL trial.
Stuart re-joined the club where he made his name as a player, leaving wooden-spooners Parramatta.
In sweltering conditions at AAMI Park, both teams made plenty of handling errors as they blew away the off-season cobwebs.
Stuart gave former halfback Josh McCrone his first run at hooker in the first half and he looked right at home, while No.7 Mitch Cornish also impressed.
The Raiders opened the scoring through winger Mosese Pangai, with the teams going into halftime locked at 4-4 after the Storm's stand-in skipper Kevin Proctor touched down.
Back-rower Joel Edwards set up a try for Jordan Ropana for Canberra to regain the lead but, again, Melbourne levelled through promising winger Young Tonumaipea.
The home side pulled ahead thanks to a four-pointer from Hymel Hunt however two late Raiders tries scored by Jack Ahearn and Brenko Lee sealed the win.
Ben Hampton made a strong push for the vacant Storm five-eighth jersey.
Following the departure of England international Gareth Widdop to St George Illawarra, the Storm are testing their talent for a new No.6 to partner Cooper Cronk.
Hampton, 21, started the match at five-eighth and was one of the home side's best, setting up Proctor's try.
With their stars - skipper Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cronk - rested, another standout for Melbourne was feisty Canterbury recruit Joel Romelo, who spent time at hooker and halfback.
Former Manly prop George Rose, playing his first match in Storm colours, had some solid runs in the tough conditions.