Bellamy thankful for bench impact
Representative stars Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk may have orchestrated the key plays which led to Melbourne beating the Warriors 21-14 on Sunday, but coach Craig Bellamy has credited his interchange for the victory in Auckland.
The Storm dominated proceedings through the first half and took a 12-4 lead into the break, but had to endure a second-half onslaught from the Warriors which saw the hosts claw their way back to lead the match 14-12 with 11 minutes to go.
It was at this point that Bellamy believed his interchange men added some much-needed spark to wrestle momentum back their way.
"We looked like we ran out of gas there halfway through the second half running into that wind," Bellamy said after the Play NRL Round clash.
"We just couldn't get out of our own half. We couldn't get it going and the Warriors were kicking deep and defending well.
"After that we made a couple of interchanges and we seemed to find a bit of spark again.
"Sometimes when you are doing it tough and basically out of gas it's hard to get back into that game again, but the boys did.
"The most pleasing thing for me with this team this year is they have been playing fairly gritty footy…we have been gritting our teeth in the tough times getting through it pretty well and then coming out the other side; that's the thing I am real proud of at the moment."
The decision to use just one of his eight interchanges in the first 40 minutes proved a masterstroke from Bellamy, giving his side fresh legs for the final 10 minutes which saw them outlast the Warriors to keep a perfect three from three record to start 2016.
"We only had one change in the first half because we had a lot of the running and we had the wind at our back," Bellamy said.
"We knew it was going to be a tough second half for us with the wind so we wanted to keep a few up our sleeve.
"All our guys out there said they were feeling pretty fresh so we just wanted to save them up for the second half. We used them all (in the end) and especially during that period halfway through the second half where we had a few doing it real tough; it came in real handy for us."
Prior to the trip to Mt Smart Stadium the Storm had opened their campaign with an 18-16 victory over the Dragons before securing a more straightforward 34-16 win over the Gold Coast.
Lock Dale Finucane, who clocked up 39 tackles and 75 metres on his way to 44 NRL Fantasy points, believed the Warriors presented his side with their toughest challenge so far this season.
"I think the score reflected how tough it was, there was only one point in it until the last couple of minutes," the Bega Roosters junior said.
"We are always confident in our team's ability, Craig really instils it and having that tough mentality to grind out wins, so I think we were always confident we had the ability to do that.
"I think all the games we have had this year have been quite gritty wins, so we take a lot of confidence out of that and knowing that we have the ability to endure the whole intensity of the game and come away with the victory at the end."