Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has questioned his team’s hunger to defend their NRL title in a stinging assessment of their performance in their 17-14 loss to Cronulla.
The Sharks stopped the Storm’s return to the top of the NRL ladder and helped their own top-four hopes in an enthralling match at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
Moving to sixth, Cronulla proved their defence was title-worthy, holding the Storm up over the tryline three times and preventing a match-winner with the dying minutes uncannily similar to their 2016 grand final decider.
Bellamy was scathing of his team’s poor ball control and game management in the first half, hinting that heads could roll before their Friday night clash with Parramatta.
“It looks like we lack hunger at the moment,” Bellamy said.
“We looked like we started the game waiting for things to happen rather than making them happen and I’m not quite sure why that would be.
“We will need to change that if we’re going to go anywhere in this competition.”
The Storm trailed 13-4 at halftime with hooker Jayden Brailey and Valentine Holmes both scoring as the Sharks searched for just their second win in Melbourne since 2009.
The home side pegged it back to 13-10 through Billy Slater, who announced his retirement midweek, running on to a Cameron Munster grubber.
But Munster then a threw a loose pass that led to the Sharks’ final try.
It was scooped up by centre Jesse Ramien and despite being brought down by Josh Addo-Carr after a 60m dash, Cronulla winger Josh Dugan took the ball from dummy-half and burst through some soft defence.
Will Chambers set up winger Suliasi Vunivalu for his second try in the 72nd minute to pave the way for an exciting finale but the visitors held firm.
“I’m concerned and I’m disappointed,” Bellamy said.
“It’s what we do from now on is what matters.
“We need to decide where we are going from here and put some actions to it.”
Further souring the loss, veteran second-rower Ryan Hoffman looks to have played his last NRL game after suffering a serious hamstring injury later in the game.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, meanwhile, was all smiles after arresting a two-game losing streak.
“There were parts of it that were really courageous and really skilful and there was probably a block in the second half where we defended our tryline that ended up winning the game for us,” Flanagan said.
“I think we just won more crucial moments than the Storm did.”
Prop Andrew Fifita isn’t apologising for the expletive-laden podcast that has left him in hot water with Cronulla officials. Fifita has been handed a warning letter by the NRL club after he and teammate Josh Dugan, had launched a fierce tirade in August against journalist Phil “Buzz” Rothfield but, more than six weeks on, is […]
The Melbourne Storm are through to their third consecutive grand final with a chance to win back-to-back premierships after defeating the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park on Friday night by 16 points in what was a commanding display.
After falling just short in the 2016 Grand Final, the Melbourne Storm will be looking for revenge when they take on the Cronulla Sharks in the first preliminary final of the 2018 NRL season. This is The Roar’s guide to watching the game online and on TV.
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