Smith at a loss to explain defensive lapses

Most teams would be overjoyed having piled on six tries at Lottoland against their bitter rivals, but that wasn't the case in the post-match press conference with Storm skipper Cameron Smith at a loss to explain how his side had allowed 26 points to almost throw away the game from a seemingly unlosable position. 

‌The Storm were in complete control with a comfortable 30-12 lead late in the first half but conceded the final three tries of the afternoon – including one on the stroke of half-time – to invite Manly back into the contest. 

"It was a frustrating game to play in," Smith said. 

"It was a really funny feeling after the match - it was great to get a victory and we're unbeaten on the road so far, but it's like we can't put an entire game together at the moment. 

"For the first six rounds we've been very good defensively and our attack's been poor, and today… that's the best 40 minutes [in attack] this club has played in a long time. 

"I was really angry at half-time coming into the sheds. To allow three tries, they were really soft tries as well. I don't know what it is - whether it's our attitude to our 80 minutes or our concentration levels - but we just can't put together an 80-minute game together. 

"At the end of the day, we got a win, but we can't continue to play like that. You play inconsistent football during the year, it will come back to bite you at the end of the year when it matters."

Melbourne hadn't conceded more than two tries in a game since they gave up 26 points to the Broncos in Round 25 last year, and it was those defensive lapses that had Smith concerned heading into the business end of the season. 

"I can't remember the last time we conceded that many points. I don't think we conceded that many all year, so that's just an indication of our attitude towards defence today," he said. 

"With all due respect, they weren't overly hard tries to defend. We should have defended those. It's a strange feeling. Usually when you have a win – even if you don't play to your best but you put in a lot of effort and win – you're usually quite satisfied, but I'm not overly satisfied with what we did today."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy wasn't as critical of his side's performance on Saturday afternoon but was none too pleased with how his troops approached their defensive duties for the final hour of the contest.  

"I'm probably a little bit more level than Cameron at the moment," Bellamy said. 

"We've got a fair few young blokes in our side and we just need to learn how to find some balance. Sometimes learning just comes down to experience. We lost four players out of our grand final side last year and they were all experienced players. 

"We've had six debutants this year and four of them had never played NRL before. I think that's an area that I need to be a bit more patient with, but I'm with Cameron in that it just wasn't good enough today, especially our effort defensively. 

"I was really disappointed with our performance – more so the first half. I thought our second half we applied ourselves a lot better defensively. 

"It was like we came here just to attack today, which has been a real focus for us to hang onto the footy and there was a certain style we wanted to play with the footy and we played that and we did a really good job especially in the first half. 

"We couldn't defend a set. We'd give away a penalty and we couldn't defend that set, we'd make an error and we couldn't defend that set and I think the try they scored on half-time was pretty indicative of our performance in the first half without the ball. 

"It's hard to be over-critical when we scored that many points – and we put some really good attack together – but we've always been about having pride in our defence and I didn't think we did a good job with that today."