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How well does the Melbourne Storm dynasty stack up in NRL history?

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Expert
19th July, 2019
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A week after Cameron Smith became the first player to reach 400 club games in the premier rugby league competition in Australia, it’s only logical to look at the performance of his club, the Melbourne Storm, for the duration of his career.

Smith made his debut in 2002, but regularly started from 2003. From that year until the end of Round 17, 2019, the Storm have appeared in eight grand finals, won four of them (for just two titles, as another two were stripped due to salary cap infringements) and have enjoyed 17 straight years, where the number of regular-season losses have been no more than half of their games.

We can see their consistency here. Even with the period where the club was found to be cheating the salary cap (the red bars), the repetition of success from those five years has been replicated in the nine years since.

But how exactly does this Melbourne Storm dynasty stack up against all the others from the past?

Well, to be truly thorough, this analysis is going to look at the numbers solely. The definition of “dynasty” is defined by just one strict parameter: at least five consecutive seasons whereby the number of regular-season games lost is never any higher than 50 per cent.

It may seem flexible, but there have only been 51 instances of this happening since 1951.

Longest dynasty
The current Melbourne dynasty is into its 17th season which is remarkable, however it’s not the longest. In fact, there have been five others that have exceeded it: St George (1946-1973) and Souths (1908-1935) both had 28 years, followed by Manly (1966-1988) at 23, Brisbane (1988-2006) at 19 and Canterbury (1982-1999) at 18.

Games played
This is almost identical to the longest dynasty dataset, except that the Souths 1908-35 run gets leapfrogged by Manly (1966-88), Brisbane (1988-2006), Canterbury (1982-99) and the current Storm side (2003-19).

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Points percentage
This is a percentage of competition points scored (not including points for byes) against the maximum amount of points available. The Dally Messenger-led Eastern Suburbs of 1908-1914 come in with the highest rate at 73.68 per cent, followed by Balmain (1914-25) at 72.96 per cent and Souths (1908-35) at 72.10 per cent.

The current Storm side are ranked ninth, still with a very impressive 68.95 per cent.

Frank Ponissi

(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Average margin
This is calculated by taking the average score per game for and subtracting the average points per game against. The Canberra side of 1993-2000 have the best average margin at 8.52, followed by Easts (1930-42) with 8.38, Canberra (1987-91) with 8.20 and in fourth place is the current Melbourne dynasty with 8.08.

Premierships won
No surprises here that the top of the list is the St George 1946-73 run, which bagged 12 titles, eclipsing the record set by the Souths 1908-35 dynasty, which reaped 11 titles.

It’s a big drop back to third where the Broncos (1988-2006) and Balmain (1914-25) are tied with six apiece. Souths (1949-57) and Manly (1966-88) both have five.

If the Storm hadn’t lost their two titles due to cap breaches, they’d be sitting on four behind those mentioned, however they have two titles and are ranked equal 13th.

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Final two
This metric shows how often a side reached the grand final or were placed second on the ladder during seasons where the ‘first past the post’ system was in place.

Leading this field yet again are the Dragons (1946-73), tied with Souths (1908-35) on 17. Next comes Manly (1966-88) and Easts (1930-42) who both had nine, followed by Balmain (1914-25) on eight. Melbourne also have eight when including their years where they over the cap, but only have four if those aren’t counted.

Overall
The mighty Dragons side is still the benchmark. Their run was 11 years longer than Melbourne’s is now, saw them earn 71.92 per cent of points available, compared to Melbourne’s 68.95 per cent, and they won an immense 12 titles out of 17 grand finals.

Melbourne came in at fourth, behind Souths (1908-35) and Easts (1930-42), which shows that the current Storm side are unquestionably the best outfit of the last 40 years.

Given the competition levelling effect of the salary cap, as well as the opening up of the game thanks to the implementation of the ten-metre rule, it is unbelievably impressive that the Storm rank as highly as they do.

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When we look at that legendary Dragons dynasty that lasted from 1946 to 1973, we see that St George had a steady rise to a peak in 1959, where they were undefeated (16 wins and two draws from 18 games) before a very steady decline.

In comparison, the Storm have had a few very high points between just a few seasons where the success rate was lower but still at a very high percentage. What is similar between the two is that gap between their absolute and best and their worst is minimal, and that their worst is still an absolutely fantastic season.

So the Storm don’t have the best dynasty. Not yet. But they are on track to give the Dragons’ amazing record a shake.

There have been just two constants the whole time in this Storm run, coach Craig Bellamy and captain Cameron Smith. But will the dynasty continue on beyond Smith’s retirement?