It took just 18 minutes for the Melbourne’s season to go up in smoke.
The Storm slumped to their third consecutive finals loss, going down 28-4 to the Bulldogs in front of 19,023 fans at AAMI Park.
Canterbury burst out of the blocks with three converted tries in the opening 18 minutes to leave everyone wearing purple to share a stunned silence.
It was also Melbourne’s fourth consecutive loss to the Bulldogs as it followed a similar tale of being simply unable to put points on the board. The Storm have only managed to score a combined 20 points in each of those four losses.
But stats meant little to the players who were left despondent at the nature in which their 2014 campaign drew to a close.
“Disappointing is the word that comes to mind, to start the way we did and be 18-nil down after 20 minutes. I don’t know why that was but it is just very, very disappointing at the moments, it hurts,” said Storm veteran Ryan Hinchcliffe.
“To do it on such a big occasion where we had 20,000 screaming Storm fans and all our families in an elimination final to toss that up when it mattered the most is very disappointing.”
The salt into the wound of the elimination finals loss came with the realisation that favourite son Ryan Hoffman has played his last game for the club.
After 12 seasons in the purple, Hoffman will cross the ditch to join the Warriors next season on a three-year deal.
Hinchcliffe was left to contemplate after the game life without his great mate.
“That is one of the most disappointing thing’s about it… he didn’t deserve a performance like that from the team for his last game ever for Melbourne Storm,” said Hinchcliffe.
“We like to be a club that looks after each other but to send one of our greats out like that is what probably hurts more than anything to be honest.”
It was an uncharacteristically inconsistent season for the Storm, with their fans were often left hoping rather than expecting a good performance from their side.
The finals stage was one where hope does little for your chances and it came back to bit them on Sunday.
“We probably had the most inconsistent year we’ve had in recent times that I can remember,” said Hinchcliffe.
“Whether that is the competition or us, I think it’s us. I can’t answer why that is but we always pride ourselves on being a team that doesn’t beat ourselves but we’ve done that this year on numerous occasions and for what reason I’m not sure but we’ve got to find out.”