Adversity prepares Storm for finals
Storm coach Craig Bellamy says he's proud of the team's consistency in a challenging year of injuries and unavailability.
Melbourne is one win away from sewing up their third minor premiership, and ahead of their clash with the 16th placed Knights, it would be a huge source of pride for the long-time mentor.
"This is a tough competition," he said.
"To be the top after six months of real tough footy – especially we had five guys in Origin this year – that was a big drain throughout this period. We were lucky we had some young guys come in and do a tremendous job, so it's been a real team effort. We take a bit of pride in where we finish.
"Finishing with the minor premiership is a huge pat on the back for our players."
Finals football is a different prospect, but the coach said his team needs to continue its consistent ways.
"After that, another competition starts (the finals) – that's where the real tough footy begins, so we need to be prepared for that" he said.
"If we can win the minor premiership, it shows we've been a consistent side. I think you need to be consistent to do well at the end of the year as well. You just can't go up and down throughout the season and then expect not to go up and down in September. It's good practice as well."
The Knights have proven to be a tricky opponent for the Storm in recent times, with their two matches last year close affairs. Bellamy acknowledged his side needs to combat Newcastle's energetic opening stanzas.
"One thing they've been doing is really starting well, so we'll need to make sure we're doing that is well," he said.
"That's a real focus [for us] this week. They've got good leads early, the last three weeks they've hung on.
"We just need to keep playing well. There are some things we still need to improve in. Hopefully, we can improve in a couple of things this week."
Asked what the side needs to improve, and Bellamy pinpointed one particular area.
"I'd like to see us more direct with the footy," he said.
"I think a few others in the team need to be more direct. It's not disastrous, but I think we've gone a little bit away from what were doing earlier in the season when we were really effective."