Storm concede: It's now do or die
It's a position the Storm haven't been in since Cameron Smith's first year with the club in 2002 but the Melbourne skipper admitted their season will be on the line in next Friday's clash with Brisbane.
After going down 24-12 to the Roosters despite holding the upper hand over the reigning premiers for the best part of an hour on a soggy Saturday night at Allianz Stadium, the Storm now sit just two points away from the edge of the top eight, and need a win over the Broncos to ensure they make what is now a customary finals appearance.
It's been more than a decade since Smith made his debut and Craig Bellamy was still Wayne Bennett's understudy at Brisbane that Melbourne has entered the final weekend of the regular season without a guaranteed finals berth -aside from a 2010 campaign when punishment for salary cap cheating confined them to the last place - and the Storm captain admitted that their season goes on the line next Friday.
"It is a big game for us next week – the Broncos are playing for their season and in fact, after we lost tonight, we are probably playing for our season. If we drop another one and results go against us we might not even be in the finals," Smith said.
A win over the premiers would have put Melbourne in the box seat for a top four finish but such is the congested nature of this year's competition that the Bulldogs, Cowboys, Warriors and Eels could all move past the Storm and push them out of the eight if they fall next week.
Despite completing an impressive 19 of 21 first half sets in the atrocious conditions, coach Craig Bellamy was left ruing a final 15 minutes in which the Roosters overhauled his side courtesy of costly errors, in particular a dropped ball from winger Sisa Waqa that was picked up by Roosters half Mitchell Pearce who promptly galloped away to score a game-turning 64th-minute try.
"We had a lot of momentum during vast periods of the game and we just made a mistake and we got behind and then all of a sudden we made a couple more mistakes just trying to do things that we didn't really have to do," Bellamy said.
"In 15 minutes we probably made as many mistakes as we did the whole game. We didn't have to change too much when Pearce scored that try but we got a little impatient.
"But there were some good signs there and hopefully we can make it, and if we can, hopefully we perform well and give a little bit of cheek."
Smith echoed his coach's sentiments, lamenting a lack of execution from the Storm with the match in the balance.
"As a team we didn't do too much wrong, just a couple of individual mistakes," Smith said. "I thought we played a pretty good game of footy. Apart from their early try I thought we had control of the whole game.
"We controlled them well, built a lot of pressure and that's how you beat good sides. You wear them down and run them off their feet.
"We had the opportunity to do that but we just couldn't finish them off. We came up with some errors at crucial times... you just can't afford to do that with the good teams, give them an inch and they'll take a mile."