Defence pleases Storm brains trust
When a team scores nine tries, six in the first half, you would think the coach and captain would have a glowing endorsement for their side's dominant attacking display.
But not this Melbourne Storm.
The Storm put to bed last week's horror loss to the Knights in the best way possible, crushing the bottom-placed Sharks 48-6 in front of 12,185 fans at AAMI Park.
The more pleasing part of the scoreboard for Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith was the lowly six points that sat next to the Cronulla Sharks' name.
For the fourth time in six games the Storm kept their opposition to single digits, on the back of a scintillating first-half display that saw them lead 30-nil at halftime.
Led by Jesse Bromwich (207 metres – including 178 in the first half), the Storm had seven different try scorers as they reached their highest score of the season and a record 42-point win over the Sharks.
But it was their work without the ball that was all skipper Cameron Smith was interested in talking about post-match.
"I think the lesson learned last week was that you can't go into games, score 30 and expect to win; you need to defend well," said Smith.
"If you can't defend well at this time of year you can't expect to win footy games.
"If you want to defend strongly then you will defend strongly, if you don't want to then you won't."
After surrendering a 10-point lead with three minutes left last week, the Storm had seven days to rue a missed opportunity to consolidate their spot in the top eight. It was the nature in which the players responded to that defeat which impressed their leader.
"The attitude was different tonight," said Smith.
"You could feel it in yesterday's captain's run and you could feel it before the game and that is where we let ourselves down last week. It was good that the boys responded well and changed it straight away.
"We are in a position now where it is getting pretty close to finals… From experience defence is what wins big games.
"Defence is what wins matches against good sides and we are playing three of them in our last three matches."
It is a big finish to the year for Melbourne.
Back-to-back road games await them against top-four teams Penrith and the Roosters, before finishing the regular season against Brisbane at home.
Qualifying for finals football has been a considerably more difficult task than previous years for the Storm but a finals berth that once looked doubtful now appears almost secure.
The Storm will play the Panthers in Monday night football next week.