Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Worrying signs are beginning to show for the Melbourne Storm as season 2022 enters the home stretch.
For the majority of the year Melbourne has found themselves sitting comfortably in second on the NRL ladder behind 2021 premiers the Penrith Panthers in first.
Craig Bellamy’s side has consistently been the competition’s benchmark for 15 years now but over the past couple of weeks they have looked like a completely different team.
In round 16 the Storm were being beaten by top-eight hopefuls the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles with ease before a late flurry of tries saw them lose by six points.
Last night Melbourne’s fortunes got even worse though as they were dominated by the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks and lost 28-6.
To make matters worse New Zealand international hooker Brandon Smith was sin-binned with 20 minutes to go in the game for abusing referee Adam Gee and got into a shouting match with a Sharks fan on his way back to the sheds.
Bellamy was asked about the incident during the post-game press conference.
“I don’t know what happened there,” said Bellamy.
“That looked like it was going to be one of our best sets, we had a bit of line speed.
“Then all of a sudden I thought we were getting a penalty, but he ended up in the bin.
“I don’t know what he said.
“We don’t want our players showing that sort of disrespect for the referees. I can only say it won’t happen again. I don’t know why he would say something then. The referee obviously did it for a reason.
“I’ll have a bit of a chat to Brandon and see what happened there.”
Next Sunday afternoon the Storm will face bottom eight side the Canberra Raiders at home in a very winnable game that if they don’t win will really put the pressure on coach Bellamy and his side heading into the finals.
Unless Melbourne experiences a gargantuan drop in form from here they should still finish in the top four and if any team can pull it together in the postseason it’s them.
However, if their form does not improve soon then the Storm’s stay in the finals could be a short one.