Competition wide open: Smith

Losing to an archrival twice in a season is tough but when you sit on opposite ends of the ladder makes it that much tougher.

That was the situation Melbourne found themselves in on Saturday night, as they surrendered top spot on the NRL ladder with a 12-10 defeat to the last placed Sea Eagles.

It was the Storm's second defeat in six weeks to Manly, with the games decided by one-point and two points respectively.

The ANZAC Day clash proved to be anything but a meeting between the competition's top and bottom sides, instead becoming a hard fought, grinding affair in wet conditions at AAMI Park.

A David Williams try with nine minutes left proved the difference as the Storm squandered a 10-2 halftime lead.

Manly may still be stuck in 16th despite the win but if you ask their opponents at the weekend they certainly didn't play like it.

"Not at all and we didn't have any thoughts about that (ladder position) coming into this game," Melbourne captain Cameron Smith said after the game.

"They'd won one match coming into this game and that was against us so there was no way we were going to take them lightly and they've done it again.

"They've been right in games all year… they're a good footy side and just speaking to them afterwards they've been through a few hard weeks.  You can never write off a champion side and they're a champion side, a champion club and a champion team and maybe tonight's win might spark them up a bit."

What should have been six wins from eight heading into next week's Rep Round suddenly looks a lot less appealing for the Storm with a 5-3 record.

After enjoying quality field position for significant periods, including 59 per cent of possession in the first half, the Storm failed to properly convert as they were held to their lowest score of the season.

"I thought we had ample opportunities up their end," Smith said.

"I just think our attack was a little bit off when we were inside their 20 metre line, first half included. I think some of our kicking options were quite poor as well which took the pressure off Manly and that is unlike us, we need to be more clinical than that."

As far as ladder position goes, upsets do not come any bigger than Saturday night but in the eyes of Smith that is just part and parcel of a close competition that sees two wins separating 5th and 16th.

"It is tight, you've got to be on your game every week. It doesn’t matter who you're playing or where you're playing," he said.

"It is a close competition, there aren't any clear favourites every week. Whoever turns up with a good attitude and plays a strong game of footy they are usually going to win."

The Storm will head into the Rep Round sitting in third on the NRL ladder with their next game at Parramatta on May 10.