Defensive effort took its toll: Smith
It is tough to win any game of football when you are forced 124 tackles more tackles than your opposition and that enormous workload eventually took its toll.
The men in purple gave it absolutely everything they had during Sunday night’s Grand Final but ultimately came up agonisingly short against the Sharks 14-12.
In what was a successful season for Storm built on the back of one of the greatest defences in NRL history, it seemed only fitting that would come to the fore on rugby league’s biggest stage.
For large stretches of the game Melbourne was forced to defend off its own try line as they answered countless challenges that came their way.
However just 40% of possession in the first half consumed a fair amount of energy from the Storm players, which allowed Cronulla to finish the better of the two sides.
“The first half was very taxing, we didn’t have much ball. We played pretty much that first 40 minutes down our own end, defending our own try line,” Storm skipper Cameron Smith said.
“I thought the boys did a fantastic job just to be eight points down at half-time. We are quite resilient side, we’re a mentally tough team, we’re a physically tough team.
“Coming out after half-time we backed ourselves to get back in the game and we did that.”
A Will Chambers try on 64 minutes saw Storm take the lead only for the Sharks to hit back just five minutes later.
Melbourne went within centimetres of snatching the win late in the game and continued to fight until the very end, a trait that has characterised this team in 2016.
“I was really pleased with how we played in the second half, we didn’t have a lot of opportunity in that first half,” Smith said.
“The amount of work we did in that first 40 minutes probably showed in that back end of the game.
“I can’t fault anyone in our side for the effort that they showed tonight. It was a special effort to only be eight points down at half-time.”