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Wins: 14
Losses: 10
Position: 16th (Last)
Home Record: 9 Wins, 3 losses (=1st)
Away Record: 5 Wins, 7 losses (=9th)
Best Winning Streak: 4 (Rounds 1-4)
Longest Losing Streak: 3 (Rounds 16-19, Bye Round 17)
Players Used: 30
Player of the Year: Ryan Hinchcliffe
Tries Scored (after 26 Rounds):
88 (=9th)
Tries Conceded (after 26 Rounds): 62 (2nd)

The 2010 Melbourne Storm side will go down in history as the wooden spooners, a fact that hurts them to the core. Because while almost everybody knows they are at the foot of the ladder due to a league-enforced punishment right now, as time goes on this memory might fade and they will be stuck as the first Melbourne side to finish last.

So now the Storm join the list of wooden spoon-winning clubs, leaving just Brisbane, Manly and the Warriors without one. (The Titans, Dragons and Wests Tigers also haven’t finished last in a premiership season as of yet; however the former Gold Coast, St George, Illawarra, Western Suburbs and Balmain all have the stain on their record.)

For those of you living on Mars or under a rock, it all went pear-shaped in April when it was revealed the club had been cheating for four seasons and was on track to cheat again in 2011.

So for 20 weeks of 2010 the Melbourne Storm had nothing to play for. Not because they weren’t good enough, but because they were too good and had been caught rorting the salary cap by epic proportions.

The NRL came down hard, stripping them of previous premierships, dishing out fines and making them ineligible for competition points this year.

The players themselves pleaded ignorance but the punishment remained – thus starting the longest year in Storm history.

They still won 14 games this season, the same amount as last year when they ‘won’ the premiership which has since been taken off them, showing a fighting spirit despite the circumstances.

But at the end of the day, it is the end of an era for the Storm as several players move on including Greg Inglis, Brett White, Ryan Hoffman, Brett Finch, Jeff Lima and Aiden Tolman.

Where They Excelled … Composure and attitude was probably the big plus for the Melbourne side. While they had the odd little whinge and whine on the field they were remarkably calm considering they were playing for nothing for so long.

They could have easily turned it up, gone through the motions and not cared at all but they signed up to help charities and kept fighting hard.

You had to have a little bit of a chuckle when Brett Finch claimed the side was still the best in the competition… yes Brett, and still miles over the salary cap!

Statistically the team was pretty average across the board but did lead tries scored from 21-50 metres for the year.

Where They Struggled … Just keeping it together every single week. While we’ve mentioned they did well to stay up as many times as they did there was still the odd occasion when they came into a match flat and paid the price. Other than that the side didn’t have any major weaknesses, a credit to them.

Missing In Action … Injury wasn’t a massive issue for the Storm. Sure players missed games here and there but with nothing to play for it just gave the side a chance to blood kids they’ll rely on in the future.

Ryan Hoffman missed a fair chunk, as did Brett White, Sika Manu and Anthony Quinn but the trade- off was the emergence of players like Jesse Bromwich, Matthew Duffie, Luke Kelly, Rory Kostjasyn, Justin O’Neill and Gareth Widdop.

Turning Point … April 22. This is when the NRL handed down its myriad punishments and gutted the Storm.

Before this the Storm won their opening four matches, including a blockbuster against the Dragons, and looked on track to defend their crown once more.

Although they had lost back-to-back matches just before the announcement you wouldn’t have found many people prepared to write them off as title hopefuls. Winning 10 more games from that point on would have had them in the top five, all things being “equal”.

Best Games … The Round 4 cracker on Good Friday against St George Illawarra was the highlight of the Storm’s ‘actual’ season. They had won their opening three games but without conviction, while the Dragons had once again started the year with authority.

In a classic, grinding match in Melbourne, the Storm absorbed everything the Dragons threw at them and then cracked the game open with some Cooper Cronk/Billy Slater magic late in proceedings. It was brilliant stuff prior to Cronk’s no-look inside ball to a flying Slater but this put the icing on a superb win.

Other good wins included a belting of the Warriors just days after the news broke; and a hammering of Newcastle in the final round when they bid farewell to their stars.

Worst Games … It’s hard to be critical given the circumstances but perhaps the games where the Storm were way off the pace were their worst ones.

In their third match since the scandal broke the side finally hit the wall against Brisbane at home, which doubled as the opening of their new stadium. Getting flogged 36-14 that day was not what the side wanted.

Their was another heavy loss at home to the Roosters (38-6), which was pretty dismal, and an away trip to Brookvale Oval where Manly dusted them 26-6 on a night they looked disinterested.

Hold Your Head High … Most of the squad can hold their heads up high. Cameron Smith was good as usual and Aiden Tolman blossomed enough to earn a big deal with the Bulldogs. Justin O’Neill was a revelation and Matthew Duffie the same as the club looks for outside backs moving forward. They all had a dig, and in a year such as this, that was impressive.

Toyota Cup … The Melbourne under-20s side finished in 13th spot in 2010 with just eight wins for the year, seven competition points away from a finals berth. The side had a pretty potent attack, ranked seventh in the competition, but their defence was pretty dismal, ranked 14th.

They started on fire with three straight wins but then managed just one draw in the next eight games. They managed to finish the year with three wins but it was well and truly too late by that stage. Justin O’Neill rocketed out of the team in to the NRL but the constant big performers in the youth competition were Kenny Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Blake Leary and Eddie Faaumasili.

Coach Craig Bellamy says: “When we found out it was obviously devastating and the year has been a drawn-out and difficult one ever since. But we stayed competitive, we unearthed some good kids and we conducted ourselves with dignity. For that I’m proud of the boys. It’s sad to see guys go especially given the massive contribution they have had to this club.”

Conclusion … Melbourne’s record as the dominant side of this back half of this decade will forever be tarnished now. And it is a real shame. The playing group and coaching staff worked very hard for their success, somewhat oblivious to the fact they were cheating all along.

But if there is a silver lining, it is the chance to start again. The club can rebuild using the same core principles it started with. Get good youngsters, train them up with hard work and effort and surround them with a few stars. If they can do it with better accounting, it won’t be long before they are back at the top.
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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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