Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Melbourne playmaker Cooper Cronk denies the Storm have become complacent after their 2007 premiership despite their worst start to an NRL season in four years.
The Sydney Roosters ensured the Storm suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since rounds three and four in 2006 when they ground out a 10-6 victory at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.
It followed the Storm's one-point loss to Cronulla last round, and leaves the club - who host the red-hot Brisbane Broncos next Friday - staring down the barrel of their first three-game losing streak in more than seven years.
Cronk, though, insists there is no premiership hangover at the club.
"There's definitely no complacency there," said Cronk.
"The first thing that goes with complacency is effort and the effort is there.
"It's the execution, that's the question. So I don't agree with that at all."
Coach Craig Bellamy praised his side's superb defensive performance on Saturday, but branded his team's attack as either "lazy" or "dumb" against the Roosters.
Cronk agreed, but claimed the mountain of possession enjoyed by the Roosters over the opening half hour also took a major toll late in the match.
"When you give away a lot of penalties early in the game and you've got to defend a lot you suffer at the back end of games," Cronk said.
"But we are a little bit off at the moment.
"Normally our fluency is right up there and everyone knows their role.
"So our timing is out a little bit and the effect of that is you don't penetrate the defensive line as much as you do when everyone is hitting the right holes at the right time."
Melbourne have been the NRL's dominant team in recent times, winning the past two minor premierships.
They lost just three of 27 games to claim the premiership last year, but their 1-2 start to 2008 is the worst since 2004.
Coach Bellamy, though, was keen to put the run of results in perspective.
"At the same time we've lost two games in a row, I don't think anyone's going to be driving up the Harbour Bridge and jumping off it," said Bellamy.
"I don't think it's that bad. We lost by one point last week and we lost by four this round, one try. There's some areas we need to improve but we haven't given up yet."
Captain Cameron Smith admitted that while their NRL rivals had stepped up, the Storm had failed to lift their game from last year.
He expected that to change next week.
"Two losses in a row, I don't think you can get any worse kick up the bum in our club," said Smith.
"We've got a winning culture there and we certainly don't want to lose three in a row.
"We're aware we're coming up against a good opponent next week in the Broncos. They're probably the form team at the moment, so we're in for another tough game."