Sharks back to their best: Bellamy
After a poor string of results over the past four weeks, Storm coach Craig Bellamy believes the Sharks are back to playing their best football on the eve of the finals.
The Sharks came from behind last weekend to beat the Roosters in Cronulla, and Bellamy said the performance from the second-placed side was similar to many they produced during their historic 15-game win streak through the middle of the season.
"Especially in the second half I thought it was [their best footy]. They were down 12-0, and it seemed a lot to come back from for a side that lost their previous games, sometimes that's tough to do, but they did it and did it in style," Bellamy said.
"I'm sure they took a lot of confidence out of that and I'm sure they're basically back to their best, I think they had more Origin players this year than they've possibly ever had, so sometimes clubs with big Origin representation they have a bit of a hangover for a couple of weeks and that could have been Cronulla, but from what I saw last week, they're back."
The two sides met back in Round 4 at Southern Cross Group Stadium where the Sharks beat the Storm 14-6, playing a physically imposing style of play which caught Melbourne off guard.
Fast forward 21 weeks and these two teams will do battle once again and this time for the minor premiership.
Bellamy's men know a bruising encounter is on the cards for Saturday night, although the coach hopes this time they don't get sucked into the Sharks' antics, and he just wants them to worry about themselves.
"I think our players are aware of [the physicality], that's the way the Sharks play their footy," Bellamy said.
"They're a very talented side as well, got a lot of outside backs that are strong and very quick and their forwards are really hard workers, but they've certainly got a bit of niggle in their game and they took us a little by surprise last time. They [the team] don't need me to tell them that, they've probably experienced it better than me.
"We just want to go out there and really focus on what we need to do, we've got a plan that hasn't really changed over the past couple of weeks, and there's a couple of areas that we need to be better in then we have been."
Melbourne will be hoping to retain the services of forward Kevin Proctor for Saturday night's minor premiership decider, although Bellamy admitted that he won't know until game time whether Proctor will take the field.
"We'll have a look at him today, he could, but it's one of those touch and go's," Bellamy said.
"Tohu plays his 100th game and I know Kevy (Kevin Proctor) would be keen to play in that, but having said that, finals start next week so we'll make a calculated decision on that, and the medical people will have a big say on that this afternoon."
With no AFL in town this weekend the Storm have the chance to show Melbourne just what they're made of, with a record crowd for the season expected to turn out for Saturday night's game.
Despite not feeling a buzz around the city leading up to this game Bellamy said he's felt the buzz all week, admitting the demand for tickets from people he knows is something he hasn't had to deal with before.
"I haven't felt it too much out in the public, but the amount of people that have got in contact with me wanting tickets has been unbelievable," Bellamy laughed.
"There's been a few from Melbourne, but there's been a lot of people coming from interstate as well. Whether they were already coming or whether they've just decided to come for this game [I'm not sure], but it's probably been the most interest in people asking me for tickets, and this is my 14th year here, and the most requests I've ever had."