English import George Williams has showed shades of his Canberra coach Ricky Stuart with a starring performance in his team’s stunning 22-6 win over Melbourne.
- Canberra Raiders beat Melbourne Storm 22-6 at AAMI Park to keep their 100 per cent record after three games
- The Raiders were led by English half-back George Williams, who ran the game for Canberra
- Melbourne Storm, who lost to Canberra in last year’s finals, had chances but made a string of errors
In just his third NRL match and his first visit to AAMI Park, Williams set up two brilliant first-half tries as the visitors ran the Storm ragged.
As well as the assists, he finished the game with six runs for 66 metres, three tackle busts and a line-break.
He also crunched Ryan Papenhuyzen in a huge tackle that put the Melbourne full-back on his back.
A Raiders great during his 10 years at the club, Stuart was part of the team that won three premierships in 1989, 1990 and 1994 and were runners-up in 1991.
He also played in 14 State of Origin matches for NSW and nine Tests with the Kangaroos.
England international Williams is still a long way off that record but impressed his coach with his performance.
“I was very happy with George,” Stuart said.
“George and Jack’s (Wighton) combination is something that combined with Josh (Hodgson), is a big part of our team.
“And he will only improve on that. He’s a wonderful footballer.”
One of the highlights of the game came in the 13th minute, when the Raiders were knocking on the door less than 10 metres out.
Williams held the ball out as if to hand it to a charging Canberra forward, then whirled and headed towards the try-line, before floating an inch-perfect cut-out pass to Nick Cotric near the touchline — the Raiders winger got himself airborne and touched it down just inside the corner post.
The Canberra number seven backed it up minutes before half-time when he dummied to leave the Storm defence flat-footed and raced inside the 20 before his pass put Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in untouched under the posts.
Stuart said Williams’ ad-lib style meant he fit in beautifully with the way the Raiders, who are premiership favourites, wanted to play the game.
While the Raiders are now 3-0 to start the season, Stuart was unhappy with their second half performance and said the Storm flattered them with their own poor showing.
He said his team made some “dumb choices” in attack.
But he praised the defensive effort, limiting a rattled Melbourne to just one try.
“We were very gritty and if we didn’t have that grit and determination tonight, our game wasn’t going to get us the win, the grit that we showed was the telling factor.”