Sharks coach Shane Flanagan refused to blame a disrupted week and injuries to key players for his side's underwhelming loss to the Storm on Friday night.
The Sharks were simply blown away by a rejuvenated Storm, who benefited from a week off and being able to choose their best line-up.
"We were outplayed in the first half. We didn't play our best and were up against a professional outfit that performed near perfection in the first half, and we weren't good enough," Flanagan said.
Senior players Paul Gallen, Wade Graham and Josh Dugan were all ruled out with injury, and the Cronulla coach also revealed star five-eighth Matt Moylan had battled an ankle injury during the week.
"If we came down here with all our troops, whether we get the result, it is what it is," Flanagan said.
"Even this week - with Gal, Dugan, Wade Graham injured in that first semi-final - and then we've had an awful week behind the scenes, Matty Moylan sprained his ankle earlier in the week and couldn't train.
Match Highlights: Storm v Sharks - Finals Week 3; 2018
"Someone had to go out tonight, and unfortunately it was us."
Stand-in skipper Luke Lewis felt Melbourne's extra rest gave them the energy to dominate the first half.
"I think the first 25 minutes of that game - it just goes to show what a week off does for you. They were full of energy and executed their game plan spot on. We didn't.
"We had a plan, but didn't stick to it. It is probably the most disappointing thing as players, and frustrating as a coach.
"Give credit to Melbourne where credit's due - they came out early and blew us off the park with all their energy in their first half, and I suppose the game was all over."
Flanagan paid tribute to Lewis, who played his last NRL game tonight after 324 first-grade appearances.
"Luke's been a fantastic player since he's come to the club. From what he's done for me as a coach, and the playing group, has been fantastic," Flanagan said.
"When I first recruited him, I wanted to get quality rep players into the club, so we would be a top-four team and give ourselves a chance to win the comp.
"We won it in 2016, and made top four again this year too.
The Sharks coach said he expects Storm fullback Billy Slater will escape suspension over his questionable tackle on Sosaia Feki in the first half.
Lewis reflects after final farewell
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