Ray Stone has enjoyed the best and possibly worst moments of his NRL career, scoring Parramatta’s golden-point match-winning try against Melbourne but hurting his knee in the process.
The unheralded lock became the Eels unlikely new hero, scoring twice at AAMI Park to help secure a 28-24 victory but was taken for scans following the match with fears it could be season over.
The golden point try came two minutes into extra time when Stone pounced on an attempted field goal by Mitch Moses that hit the upright.
The haul doubled the 24-year-old’s career tally from five seasons.
Stone immediately clutched at his knee after diving untouched across the line and while he managed to walk off the field he was too upset post-game to front the media.
The Eels said he would be sent for scans in Melbourne before travelling back to Sydney.
Coach Brad Arthur was unaware of the seriousness of Stone’s injury at the media conference and said the popular player deserved some luck.
‘It’s always good when a little bit of luck goes to one of our players that you can rely on,” Arthur said.
“Stoney is one of those guys, he works hard, he is sometimes in and out of the team but he never complains, he just gets on with his job.”
The injury blow dampened the celebrations for Parramatta, who again proved a thorn in the Storm’s side.
They beat the Storm twice last season, their round 24 victory ending Melbourne’s chance to set a record 20 successive NRL wins, and now serving up the Storm’s first loss of the year.
Playing in the centres, Stone’s other try came in the 70th minute to break a 18-18 deadlock when he attempted to catch a Moses bomb that bobbled off a Storm player and back into his hands.
Melbourne took momentum into golden point when Brandon Smith and Cameron Munster combined to put Ryan Papenhuyzen away in the 75th minute, with the fullback converting to make it 24-24.
The home side had two early tries disallowed however Smith, who made an early return from a broken hand made no mistake in the 11th minute.
The Eels responded with a try in the 18th minute through fullback Clint Gutherson after a Dylan Brown break.
The Parramatta five-eighth then sent a long ball to Waqa Blake and the winger steamrolled Papenhuyzen, sending the lightweight fullback flying back into the in-goal.
Nick Meaney, who was a late replacement for injured Storm winger Xavier Coates, crossed on either side of halftime to put the home side up by six.
But again the Eels hit back, with Moses putting up a bomb for centre Tom Opacic and the halfback squared up the ledger with his conversion.
The heavyweights continued to go toe to toe before Moses and Stone stood up to again leave the Storm shattered.
Coach Craig Bellamy said while they had had disrupted preparation, losing first-choice hooker Harry Grant to COVID, they were too inconsistent.
“We did some real good things and then we did some things that weren’t so good,” the Storm coach said.
“I think they scored three tries off kicks and we knew that was coming and practised for it … whoever won it was going to have a bit of luck go their way and whoever lost it, bad luck, so it is what it is.”