Melbourne Storm beat Canberra Raiders without Cameron Smith and Billy Slater

Slater was injured in the match. Picture: Grant Trouville, NRL Photos
Slater was injured in the match. Picture: Grant Trouville, NRL Photos

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has called for the NRL to make the referees more accountable as the Green Machine's finals hopes were all-but ended by the Melbourne Storm.

Compounding the 20-14 loss at Canberra Stadium, veteran forward Sia Soliola was put on report for a high shot that ended Billy Slater's night.

It leaves the Raiders needing to win all six of their remaining games to have a realistic chance of playing finals, starting with South Sydney next week.

The win also came at a cost for the Storm, with captain Cameron Smith unable to finish the game due to a pectoral injury.

While he said his coming off was only precautionary, there were reports he could be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.

A frustrated Stuart was unhappy with the officials, who were booed off by a good crowd of 14,115, and said he "feels sorry" for the fans who keep turning up but were being denied a spectacle because of on-field decisions.

“Under the circumstances of tonight we were the best team on the field ... the supporters aren't idiots. You only had to listen to them tonight," Stuart said.

"I walked into the change room and I had 47 texts. I never turn my phone on after the game, but I just want to make sure I wasn't wrong in what I was thinking tonight.

"Everyone of those texts agreed with every fan out there and everything I believe in - what I saw in that game tonight.

"Our season's on the line. Coaches have to come in here and own up to every question and we do it week-in and week-out. We just keep on aiming up and coming here and having to answer your questions after our week [and] season of hard work.

"Why don't the NRL get the referees to come in and answer some of these questions too? Or Tony Archer? When do they ever have to face any accountability?

“The best thing the NRL has done is just keep fining me and fining me, and whacking the hell out of me so I don't say anything to try and create some accountability in the game.  

"I feel sorry for them [the fans] as much as my players."

There were a series of questionable calls, with Stuart left baffled by the referee's decision to call play on when Storm second-rower Felise Kaufusi was clearly lying in the ruck.

It would have resulted in a Melbourne try if the bunker hadn't overruled.

The Raiders were also unlucky not to have Dale Finucane's second try disallowed for offside, with the bunker ruling there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the on-field decision.

Finucane also scored the opener, before Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer scored the first of his two tries for the night.

The Storm showed hints of a State of Origin hangover as they made several uncharacteristic errors in the first half, with both Will Chambers and Slater guilty of sloppy play-the-balls.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy was also left scratching his head about the officials, questioning why his five-eighth Cameron Munster was sin-binned for holding on when Soliola was only placed on report for a high shot.

"If it's not a sending off then I don't know what is a sending off. An incident like that happens, and you're on report so he's going to come under scrutiny without doubt, but then we lose a player for holding on to someone for 10 minutes," Bellamy said.

"I'm not sure that's right and fair. At the end of the day the decision was made and we play on."

Melbourne will assess both Smith and Slater during the week ahead of their clash against Manly.

This story first appeared on Brisbane Times.