SportThe stat that shows the Melbourne Storm are the best team in 60 years
Will Chambers' attacker goes into hiding as Manly players respond
Trbojevic wants a harsh punishment handed down as a strong signal to all fans. “He definitely should be banned. You can’t be lashing out at players. No way at all,” he said. “As a Manly player, it’s disappointing to see someone do that to the opposition team. “That’s a big no-go. “They got rid of the bloke pretty quickly (and) it’s no fault on Manly, but as a club we don’t want to see that.” Prop Marty Taupau stopped short of calling for a life ban, saying he would leave those decisions for the game’s administrators. But he was clearly angered over the incident.
Storm haters are gonna hate — but they cannot deny the statistic that reveals Melbourne have had the best season since the great undefeated St George team of 1959.
Craig Bellamy’s side, which finished six points clear of the Roosters to claim the minor premiership, has suffered only four losses this season: to the Roosters 21-20 in golden point in round six; to the Sharks 20-18 in round eight; to Manly 11-10 in round 19; and 22-18 to Canberra in round 22.
You have to trawl back through the record books 60 years to find a better season and that came from captain-coach Ken Kearney’s Dragons team of 1959, which featured such greats as Johnny Raper, Harry Bath, Norm Provan and Brian “Poppa” Clay on their way to 11 successive premierships from 1956 to 1966.
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That year, the Dragons went through the season undefeated, with 19 wins and a draw with Balmain.
Melbourne captain Cameron Smith is too smart to bite when asked if he thinks his team is the best rugby league has seen in 60 years. Storm haters hate the Storm enough already.
And there is, of course, a grand final to reach and then win, starting with Saturday night’s qualifying final against Canberra at AAMI Park.
“But the stats say we're a very consistent footy side,” Smith said. “In the losses we have had there hasn't been a blow-out and we have been in the match right up to our earholes.”
What Smith will say is this has been one of the most consistent teams he’s been part of since his first at the club in 2002.
“One of,” he said. “We had a look at a couple of other teams who have played well for the entire season coming into the last round and it was the ’07 Storm and ’17 Storm.
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They had some pretty good stats but this team has done some really good things.
“As minor premiers, we had the best attack as far as points scored and the best defence for points conceded.
Up to this point, I can't say enough good things about this footy side — but that’s not going to help us going into the next month, and in particular this week.”
After last year’s grand final loss to the Roosters, Bellamy put his squad through one of its most brutal pre-seasons in years.
The reason was Bellamy had several young players in his side and he wanted to show them what was expected of a Storm player.
“This season, there has been no Billy Slater, no Ryan Hoffman, Tim Glasby and Slade Griffin moved on as well,” Smith said. “We had a lot of guys missing and they have been replaced by kids.
“[This season] is all due to the hard work that those young boys put in.
I came back and did 10 weeks of the pre-season, the longest pre-season I have had in quite a long time.
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It was almost like the pre-season when I was first starting. It was like starting again and building the fundamentals in these young guys.”
The knock on the Storm is that, despite their consistent season, they will struggle to find another gear in September. The Roosters, however, apparently have several gears.
“I am really confident those younger players will play well,” Smith said.
“They need to realise finals footy matches are different to regular-season games. You need to start hard and fast and stay that way for the entire 80 minutes. T
hey have it in them. There is no reason why they can't go out and relish the opportunity they have got.”
Melbourne might not have the same sequential gears as the Roosters — but they do have the motivation of avenging last year's shock grand final loss to the Sydney glamour club.
“For the guys who were involved in that game last year, it is in the back of their minds, it has to be,” Smith said.
“It is in my mind a little bit. It’s in a deep dark place my mind.
There are moments through the year when you are missing Origin players or have a few niggles and you draw on what happened last year and want to go one better.
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I am not thinking about that at the moment. A home semi-final against the Raiders is enough motivation at this stage.”
Pictures: The greatest moments in NRL history
2015 - North Queensland Cowboys vs. Brisbane Broncos
2014 – South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Canterbury Bulldogs
2013 – Sydney Roosters vs. Manly Sea Eagles
2012 – Melbourne Storm vs. Canterbury Bulldogs
2008 – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs. Melbourne Storm
2005 – Wests Tigers vs. North Queensland Cowboys
2004 – Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Sydney Roosters
2003 – Penrith Panthers vs. Sydney Roosters
2001 – Newcastle Knights vs. Parramatta Eels
1999 – Melbourne Storm vs. St George Illawarra Dragons
1997 – Newcastle Knights vs. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
1989 – Canberra Raiders vs. Balmain Tigers
1975 – Eastern Suburbs vs. St George
1970 – South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
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