The Melbourne Storm saw their hopes of winning the NRL crown dashed at the final hurdle, suffering a 21-6 defeat at the hands of the Sydney Roosters in the 2018 Grand Final. Craig Bellamy’s outfit enjoyed a fine campaign, but were outplayed in the title contest.
Melbourne Storm fans left #AAMIPark with big grins after a big WIN last Saturday! ?⚡
— AAMI Park (@AAMIPark) June 19, 2019
The Storm were knocked back in the first half, entering the break with an 18-0 deficit after Sydney crossed the tryline three times. Although they improved in the second half, it was only marginal as the Roosters claimed the victory with ease. Melbourne lost Billy Slater and Ryan Hoffman to retirement after their loss, forcing the team to regroup for the new term.
However, Bellamy got his side on course for another run at the title. At the time of writing, the club are top of the table after 13 matches, edging ahead of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Melbourne at backed in the NRL betting odds at 6/5 to win the regular season title, although Bellamy and company will have their sights set firmly on the ultimate prize. They did finish second behind the Roosters in 2018 in the table therefore, claiming top spot would hand the Storm momentum for their playoff campaign if they are able to maintain their current level of form.
Melbourne have been imperious over the course of the campaign, although the threat of the Roosters is a danger to their hopes of winning the crown. Sydney defeated the Storm in Melbourne in their clash earlier in the 2019 season in April. The first half of the contest played out in a similar fashion to the Grand Final as the Roosters took command taking a 20-8 lead into the interval courtesy of tries from Latrell Mitchell, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and James Tedesco. However, on this occasion, Bellamy and his team put forward a stronger response after the break. Josh Addo-Carr had scored before half-time, but Tui Kamikamica and Curtis Scott crossed the line to level the scores.
Croft could have won the contest for the Storm, but he missed two kicks in extra-time. Melbourne’s old foe Mitchell did not miss the same opportunity, converting his attempt to secure the victory for the visitors. Bellamy and his team would have learned a lot from the defeat, although moving forward they will have to develop a clinical edge under pressure. The coach was furious with his team when they dropped their second game of the term to the Cronulla Sharks, who were able to edge out a close win on home soil despite the absences of a number of key players.
Since their defeat at the hands of Cronulla, Melbourne have been extremely impressive. They destroyed the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium, putting 64 points on the board. Cameron Munster and Addo-Carr both crossed the tryline twice as the Storm notched 11 tries in their dominant display. Bellamy’s side endured another close call against the Wests Tigers, defeating them for the first time in two years as Will Chambers crossed the line with three minutes remaining.
— Melbourne Storm (@storm) June 15, 2019
Melbourne highlighted their excellence this term by brushing aside the Canterbury Bulldogs, New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights with relative ease over the last month. Their key players are firing on all cylinders as Addo-Carr has been outstanding, while Smith became the highest NRL points’ scorer in history earlier in the campaign. Munster, Chambers and Suliase Vunivalu also need to maintain their standards to keep their side on course for Grand Final redemption.