Cameron Smith is rightly proud of Melbourne’s consistency. Photo: AAP Image/Scott Barbour
Cameron Smith is rightly proud of Melbourne’s consistency. Photo: AAP Image/Scott Barbour

It all points to a near perfect Storm

MELBOURNE have produced the greatest statistical season in 60 years but some have felt the need to question whether they have another gear.

The real question would be whether they need it. The Storm have lost four times this season by a combined total of eight points. Not since St George Illawarra went through the 1959 season undefeated has the game seen such consistent and concerted dominance.

Smith has been at the heart of it, his form prompting the inevitable question about if he can continue beyond 2020, when his current contract is due to expire. Smith will leave that for another day.

 

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His immediate priority is to ensure a season that has produced unrivalled consistency doesn't turn into a fizzer.

 

"I think the most impressive thing for the season - and I don't know if it has been reported on much - those four losses, we lost by a combined total of eight points," Smith said.

"We lost our first game by one (point) - golden point against the Roosters. Then we got beat by two (points) against Cronulla. Then we got beat by one point in golden point by Manly.

"Then we got beat by four against Canberra. The stats say we're a very consistent footy side, that's what it said. In the losses we have had, there hasn't been a blowout and we have been in the match right up to our ear holes."

It would take a lot for Canberra to replicate this victory. Photo: AAP Image/Scott Barbour
It would take a lot for Canberra to replicate this victory. Photo: AAP Image/Scott Barbour

Smith is reluctant to declare it the best regular season he has been involved with at the Storm. Yet the statistics speak for themselves.

After 24 games, they boasted the best attack and best defence in the competition. They conceded 63 less points than any other team. Remarkably, they won 11 of their 12 games away from AAMI Park.

Asked whether it was the best season he had been involved with at Melbourne, Smith said: "One of. We had a look at a couple of other teams who have played well for the entire season leading into the last round and it was the '07 Storm and '17 Storm.

"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 it is not going to help us going into the next month, and in particular this week."

They did it with a side in a form of transition. Billy Slater, Tim Glasby and Ryan Hoffman were among the foundations on which the Storm's success was built. All were gone at the start of the year.

It’s all square with main rivals the Roosters. Photo: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
It’s all square with main rivals the Roosters. Photo: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

In their place, Ryan Papenhuyzen has emerged as an rising star at fullback, drawing comparisons with Slater in the process. Kenny Bromwich has taken his game to another level. Justin Olam has come from nowhere to star in the centres.

"We had a lot of guys missing. and they have been replaced by kids," Smith said.

"It 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.

"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.

"I just think if we can bring our best to this finals series than we are going to be a very competitive football side. We played the Roosters twice this year for one win each, we have beaten Canberra, we have beaten Manly, we have beaten Parramatta.

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"All the sides in this finals series we have had a victory against. There is nothing that we are coming into this finals series with any fear or doubt.

"With those young fellas, I am really confident they will play well. They need to realise finals footy matches are different to regular season games.

"There are going to be no lulls in games. You need to start hard and fast and stay that way for the entire 80 minutes. They have it in them. There is no reason why they can't go out and relish the opportunity they have got."

News Corp Australia


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