They say the downfall of the Melbourne Storm has been predicted countless times in recent years after their golden generation gradually eased away into retirement.
Yet no matter how many times they have been eulogised, they’ve always found a way to respond.
Canterbury Bulldogs run riot against Melbourne to record shock win
In front of their own crowd at AAMI Park on Saturday night, the Storm looked devoid of any fight for most of the contest against the Bulldogs. In fact, they were unrecognisable.
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The obvious caveat is their backline is currently plagued by injuries to Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster, Justin Olam and Xavier Coates.
They are also still learning how to cope without their established forward pack that was dismantled and uprooted to the Dolphins in the off-season.
But Cameron Ciraldo’s troops took full advantage of this uncertainty with the type of ruthlessness that has often been a trademark of the Storm.
Canterbury raced out of the blocks and asserted their dominance not only in the tackle but also on the scoreboard.
“Obviously we would like to have all of our players available, but at the end of the day we just want all our players to go on the field and do their best,” Bellamy said.
“We were a long way away from our best today and if we are lacking some skills, some finesse or some speed or some size we will put up with that, but we just lacked effort.”
For so long the sight of Josh Addo-Carr racing down the touchline to plant the ball in the corner was met with cheers in Melbourne.
But the former premiership-winning hero with the Storm returned to haunt his old club with his four-pointer ensuring a 16-0 lead would be taken into the half time break.
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— Fox League (@FOXNRL) March 11, 2023
Although that only told part of the story. Melbourne had been exposed through the middle with the Dogs’ second phase play blowing holes through them to the tune of seven linebreaks.
There were over 30 missed tackles alone in the first half as those in purple jerseys were reduced to chasing shadows until the mercy of the ref’s whistle brought an end to their torture.
Craig Bellamy left shocked by Melbourne Storm performance
Footage beamed in from the sheds of Bellamy going ballistic brought the all-too-familiar feeling of an impending turnaround in the second stanza.
Yet there was nothing of the sort. Instead, the Dogs picked up where they left off to post two more scores and establish a barely believable 26-0 advantage.
“I just can’t believe for 60 minutes we were like that,” Bellamy said.
“I thought we had a good week of training after last week and you have a look at the effort areas compared to last week to this week- it was chalk and cheese.
“When they start getting on a roll it’s hard to stop, but we got what we deserved. With all due respect, it could have been 40-0 when it was 26-0.”
And that wasn’t even an exaggeration.
On the eve of the match, Bellamy declared their run of injuries as the worst he had encountered in his 20 years at the club.
By the conclusion of the 80 minutes, he was left to contemplate where the performance ranked in his all-time list of worst defeats.
“We were a mile off with some of our effort areas and I mean a mile off,” he stressed.
“I certainly didn’t see that coming…We have got a whole heap of work to do and adjusting our mindset.”
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