Storm clouds still hang low over Melbourne

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Storm player Billy Slater skips away from Andrew McCullough during the Rugby League, NRL Round 2, Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium, Friday March 20, 2009. Broncos won 16 - 14. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)

Storm player Billy Slater skips away from Andrew McCullough during the Rugby League, NRL Round 2, Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium, Friday March 20, 2009. Broncos won 16 - 14. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)

You may have missed it over the last week or so, but there is still the small matter of an NRL Grand Final to sort out, and one wonders whether Melbourne can sustain any sort of challenge when the whips are cracking if they are without Greg Inglis.

We have so far been spared the usual clichés about “doing it for Greg” which invariably fill the space when a player goes missing, although any public rallying around Inglis may be seen in poor taste by the Storm (another stark contrast to the behaviour of the Sea Eagles).

They are a club who in the past have been quite brash in the face of authority, whether it be wearing Rodney Howe masks on the bench or claiming the members of the judiciary liked a bet. But it is all tip-toeing on egg shells this time around.

So can the Storm survive without Inglis. In my opinion, no.

They have already been forced back into the pack this season and their backline will look pretty ordinary without Inglis there.

It makes the Newcastle game an intriguing one.

The Knights have looked to be all at sea, and prior to it all blowing up in Melbourne, it would have been a brave man to back them reversing things against the Storm.

As it stands, you’d hardly be racing to back either party. But it will now be a real test of character for both sides.

Can the Storm put it all behind them and focus on the field? Can the Knights do the business against a weakened and distracted side and get their campaign back on track?

Time will tell, but for those that spend their time watching the action on field, it promises to be an intriguing battle.

So does the match in Brisbane.

The Broncos finally looked to be enjoying themselves again as they dismantled the Sharks. Have they turned the corner or did it just underline how far off the pace the Sharks are?

The Eels and Tigers both face potential banana skin matches as well.

Both sides have won plenty of admirers and put themselves in with a real shot of making the finals. However, any reversion to early season form would end the fairytale against opponents who have little but pride to play for.

As a league fan, I’m delighted the footy is back on.

But if this last week was tiring, cheering on any of the above mentioned teams could prove just exhausting, if not eminently more enjoyable.

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