Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent
A furious Craig Bellamy described his side's second half resumption as "rubbish" and said the Storm had gifted the Dragons two points "on a silver platter" in a 24-12 defeat in Wollongong on Monday night.
Trailing 10-0 after just 15 minutes, Melbourne were uncharacteristically sluggish in both attack and defence, failing to force a repeat set from the Dragons the entire night.
"I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half to steady the ship after 10-nil. And we had a couple of chances there just before halftime," Bellamy said post-game.
"I thought we got ourselves back in the game really well but our first 10-15 minutes of the second half was rubbish actually. You add a bad start like that, [against] a very young and energetic, a very young and enthusiastic [team], and things didn't get any better from there.
"The second half was pretty poor but certainly that first 10-15 minutes of the second half, that's where we put the two points on the silver platter and give it to them."
Elder statesman Ryan Hoffman was equally unimpressed with the team's performance and accused his teammates of being complacent in a season where they haven't been in the top four since Round 3.
"It's not deflating, it's extremely disappointing," Hoffman told NRL.com.
"We've given ourselves a great opportunity and to toss up what we did tonight, it's not Melbourne Storm-like. We built this club on being strong mentally and having consistency and we haven't shown that this year. We need to start showing it sooner rather than later because the end's getting close.
"To be honest, I think we're just being complacent. People are just waiting for things to happen rather than making it happen ourselves."
Captain Cameron Smith echoed Hoffman's sentiment, and added a deep concern over his team's inability to defend after mistakes – a hallmark of a Storm side that has missed the finals just once in 11 years.
Monday night's defeat leaves them out of the top eight on for-and-against ahead of next week's bye.
"I spoke to the boys after the game. We weren't prepared to play a tough game tonight," Smith said.
"We weren't prepared to build pressure on St George and we come up with some cheap errors. We got down there end and had opportunities. We didn't finish our sets well.
"And when we did make errors, we didn't back it up with good defence. Every time they got down in our 20 metre zone, they seem to get over the try line every time.
"Good teams don't do that. Good teams defend their errors, and good teams back up good performances from the week previous like we had last week. They don't just get comfortable and travel up here and think it's all going to happen again."