Manly coach Des Hasler bemoaned the possession his side squandered in the 28-18 loss to the Storm and warned that lack of respect for the ball would harm the Sea Eagles' premiership chances it if continued.
He acknowledged a lot of fans might think Manly should take great confidence out of giving Melbourne a real run for their money at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
"It’s one thing saying it's a lot of confidence but on the other hand we can't let it become a pattern – not against the good sides,” he said.
"We just need to even up possession – 26 sets aren’t going to cut it."
Manly’s 26 of 38 sets gave them a completion rate of 68% compared with Melbourne’s 83%. While Manly made four line breaks to Storm’s three, and 22 tackle busts to their 20, the Storm forced four goal-line drop outs to Manly’s one.
The Sea Eagles also conceded seven penalties, and made 60 more tackles.
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"You can’t afford to give that much possession away, that much negative play. The times we did have the ball we looked okay. We’ve got a fair idea of what we need to improve," Hasler said.
Even opposition coach Craig Bellamy could see where Manly dropped off in intensity.
"Manly’s attack really tests you out. But they probably didn’t control the ball as well as they would have liked tonight," Bellamy said.
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The 10-year anniversary of the "Battle of Brookvale", in which Storm and Sea Eagles players became involved in several all-in brawls, brought back memories but didn’t result in any fresh ones.
"As for the rivalry, it’s not as angry, or not what it used to be, but it’s still good to see some good footy," Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans told Fox Sports post-match.
"Tonight was a fair reflection of two teams playing pretty good footy. They’re a great side and we’re doing our best out there to compete with them," he said.
"But it just shows we’ve still got a little bit of improvement left in us, which is a good thing at this time of year."
On the injury front, Hasler said Taniela Paseka had suffered a syndesmosis of his right ankle and would have scans.
"So he’ll be a couple of weeks (out)."
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