Smith puzzled by losses to lower NRL sides

Cameron Smith is taking one positive from Melbourne’s shock 20-6 loss to Newcastle – they don’t face a side below them on the NRL ladder in the remaining rounds.

Smith and coach Craig Bellamy were bewildered by the Storm’s capitulation to the Knights, who were sitting last heading into the match.

It was the third time this season that Melbourne have lost to a team in such a position, previously going down to Wests Tigers and Manly.

Smith said his team might have been complacent against the lowly Knights, expecting the win that would have lifted them into the top four.

Instead they remain in sixth.

“It might be an issue because it’s been a trend this year,” Smith said.

“Every time we play a team quite low on the ladder, we’ve struggled.

“I guess the good thing for us is that we’re not playing anyone below us in the next two weeks; that’s probably the only positive we could take out of tonight, to be honest.”

The Storm were outplayed by the hungry Knights from the opening whistle, starved of ball until the eighth minute.

Newcastle’s defence was equally devastating, running off their line to shut down playmakers Cooper Cronk and Blake Green.

Bellamy said he wasn’t overly disappointed that his side lost, but he was upset with how they lost.

“I thought they out-toughed us; they ran harder and straighter, they worked harder on the ground,” Bellamy said.

“They played semi-final type football and we weren’t prepared to match that.

“They got down in the trenches and we wanted to go sun-baking on the beach.”

Melbourne now host the Cowboys before finishing their regular season with a Thursday night match against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

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