Smith hits out at short turnarounds
Storm captain Cameron Smith has launched a stinging attack on the NRL schedule, labelling five-day turnarounds as "ridiculous".
The Storm and the Knights faced off on Saturday on the back of a short break, with both sides playing last Monday, and Smith suggested the short turnaround had an influence on the quality of the game.
"It's tough. We've been saying it for a long time now, and it's taken a couple of Sydney teams to get a rough trot for people to stand up and take notice," Smith said after Melbourne's 18-14 win.
"Last year we finished with two five-day turnarounds in a row leading into a finals series, that's just ridiculous."
Melbourne was only able to have two ball sessions this week, and Smith said it had a direct effect on the quality of Saturday's game.
"We had one main session and a captain's run… and the captain's run was like a jog through," Smith said.
"The one main session went for 40 minutes, how much work can you really get done in 40 minutes?
"Maybe it had a little bit to do with how we played today, maybe it didn't, but I think it did."
Smith sympathised with the Knights who hadn't been back to Newcastle in over a week after flying straight to Melbourne following their loss to the Warriors in Auckland on Monday.
"You had two teams tonight playing on five-day turnarounds against each other, and they came from New Zealand, they stayed in Melbourne all week and haven't been home."
It took just over 60 minutes for the Storm to produce some quality in attack against Newcastle, as late tries to Cooper Cronk and Richie Kennar salvaged a result that otherwise would have been a disappointing loss.
Melbourne assistant coach Adam O'Brien had mixed feelings about the win, but was ultimately pleased in his side's ability to turn the game around in the second half.
"Let's be honest, it wasn't a pretty first half from us, but in saying that the boys regrouped in the second half and played a lot more straighter with the footy," O'Brien said.
"We worked really hard defensively and tidied up some ill discipline from the first half so there were some good signs there, we're still not playing real pretty with the footy but we're finding ways to win."
"There's certainly some willingness from the group to defend, and that's the pleasing part but we're under no illusion that we've got some work to do with our attack."