They’re the team everyone’s been chasing since August, but Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy insists 2016 will still be a success if the Storm fail to make next week’s NRL decider.
Bookmakers have stuck with the league’s minor premiers as favourites when Melbourne host Canberra in the second preliminary final at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
The winner will meet fairytale story Cronulla in a dream grand final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday week, while the loser will regret a wasted opportunity to play for the ultimate prize.
Defeat would also mean back-to-back preliminary final outings for the Storm, and stretch their grand final drought to a fourth season since claiming the 2012 trophy.
However Bellamy denied falling short again would be seen as a disappointment in his eyes.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps forward this year than from the last couple of years. Our consistency’s been the big improvement,” Bellamy said.
“I don’t think one game is going to change a whole heap. But having said, you don’t get these opportunities too often. And you want to make the most of them.”
To do so, Bellamy urged his team to heed the lesson the Raiders spanked them with in round 23, when the Storm were ambushed 22-8 in the nation’s capital.
The magic number for the league’s best defence is 20 – Canberra haven’t won a game when scoring 20 points or less in almost three years.
Bellamy said it was imperative his men start strong, and fast.
“Against Canberra you need to be on your game straightaway, and we found that out when we played them six weeks ago. They scored off the first set, inside a minute,” he said.
“That just goes to show how dangerous a team they can be. We need to start with a whole heap more energy than we did last time we played them.”