Storm target strong finish
Just a month ago its injury list resembled a casualty ward, its star playmaker remained sidelined with a broken arm and a bottom eight finish was becoming an unnerving reality.
But fast-forward to the present and the Melbourne Storm look to have turned their season around.
Friday night’s 30-8 dismantling of the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium has put the competition back on notice.
Back-to-back victories has seen the Storm leapfrog four other teams in two weeks to sit in sixth position, just one win outside the top four.
During the Origin period it seemed the club would miss the finals for just the second time in 12 years.
Cooper Cronk was out for two months, Billy Slater and skipper Cameron Smith were each battling their own ailments, not to mention a crippling injury toll across the board.
But the Storm have weathered the proverbial pun and now seem prime for a strong finish to the year.
The inability to blend a strong defensive performance with attacking flair has been a knock on Melbourne in 2014 but last Friday night it seemed to click for the first time this season.
“I think it was our best defence and attacking game in the one,” said Storm second-rower Kevin Proctor.
“I think the boys really stepped up attacking wise and we did really do well in defence.
“I know the table is real close so I think we have to win a few games to have a chance of getting into the finals…hopefully we can put on another good performance against the Wests Tigers.”
For the second week running Melbourne will face another team desperately chasing a finals berth when they take on the 11th placed Tigers.
A narrow defeat to the Bulldogs has been followed by two convincing wins over the Raiders and Broncos suggesting the Victorian side is better placed than it was this time last year.
The Storm lost three of its last four games in 2013 to bow out of the finals in straight sets for the first time under coach Craig Bellamy.
This time around the side is looking to ensure history does not repeat itself.
“Last year I think we were up and down also, so hopefully we can stay consistent towards the end of the year and build some momentum going into the back end,” said Proctor.
“Hopefully we can keep a few wins going and get some momentum for the back end of the year.”
The Storm travel to Campbelltown Stadium to take on Wests Tigers next Monday night at 7pm.