William Botoulas, Melbourne Correspondent, NRL.com
Key personnel may be missing from this Storm but those left standing are not doing themselves any favours.
That was the post-game assessment from coach Craig Bellamy and captain Cameron Smith following the side’s 32-12 defeat at the hands of reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters on Sunday.
The Storm trailed 16-0 at halftime and although this has been a drama filled season there was to be no miracle comeback on this occasion.
Melbourne threatened numerous times deep in Rooster territory but lacked the creative spark to break arguably the best defensive line in the competition.
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Injured stars Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk were left to watch from the sidelines and although their absence was severely apparent, it was not used as a scapegoat after the game.
“We are obviously struggling with a lack of personnel but we are just making it a lot harder on ourselves than we should be,” said Bellamy.
“We are probably struggling a little bit with our execution and attack and we probably expected that with those two guys out but having said that I think we kicked the ball three times in the first half on the third tackle … we didn’t practice that during the week.
“It is a frustrating time at the moment but we’ve just got to keep our noses to the grindstone and work our way out of it. It is only going to be hard work that will get us out of it.”
The captain was also notably deflated post-match, disappointed with the way his side turned up to play.
A missed tackle count that read 41-8 was the damming statistic of the afternoon and did not sit well with the skipper.
“Our attitude with our defence today was off, our contact was quite poor at times,” said Smith.
“All their tries came off them getting a roll on and getting quick play-of-the-balls and we just couldn’t match their aggression today.
“That doesn’t come down to missing blokes, that doesn’t come down to inexperience, that is an attitude thing … It was the defence that let us down today.”
The loss now sees the Storm drop to 6-6 for the season and amidst the host of teams vying for the lower reaches of the eight.
To make matters worse, the team will board the plane to take on the Titans without their remaining Origin stars.
Ryan Hoffman, Cameron Smith and perhaps Will Chambers are all set to miss next Monday night.
With back-to-back losses and a fellow 6-6 team to come, what is historically a difficult Origin period has this year become a vitally important one for Melbourne.