Smith: Storm haven't really 'fired a shot yet'
Cameron Smith has issued an ominous Storm warning, insisting Melbourne are ready to unleash plenty of dry gunpowder in the run-in to the playoffs and beyond.
The premiers nicked another close shave on Sunday, edging the Warriors 12-6 in Auckland with a performance built on defensive composure to climb to the top of the Telstra Premiership on points differential from St George Illawarra and South Sydney.
Melbourne has pipped the Cowboys, Roosters and Sea Eagles by a solitary point in low-scoring affairs since round 12 and Sunday's two tries to one victory at Mt Smart has them in pole-position, albeit with an offensive engine missing its usual beat.
It's not so much winning ugly as getting through tight matches with clever game-management during the State of Origin disruptions, a period mastered-minded by Smith.
That said, the former Kangaroos and Queensland skipper insists Melbourne need to find their offensive verve quickly as they haven't "really fired a shot yet", even if the Warriors, recalling their 50-10 mauling at AAMI Park in round 8, would beg to differ.
"We've certainly put ourselves in a very good position at this stage of the season and really off the back of playing some tough football," Smith said.
"I think in the last eight weeks we've won a lot of close games, a lot of matches where we haven't necessarily been at our best but effort and the willingness to stay in the fight has got us home.
"We went through a little period there where we scored 30 plus points in three consecutive games, that shows the capability of our side but we just need to find that consistently every week and try and make it a little easier on ourselves for the remainder of the season."
Storm coach Craig Bellamy admits there's "a fair bit of work to be done" for the Storm to start purring offensively again.
"We've had three halfbacks this year so sometimes that makes it hard on the combinations. But we've certainly got the players there to start playing with a bit more conistency with our attack," Smith said.
"Through this Origin period our defence has been really good. This was a tough, gritty win so that's a pretty good trait to have. We just need to get a bit of finesse when we've got the footy. We'll keep working hard on that and hopefully that'll come [along] as we go."
Jahrome Hughes who was preferred over Brodie Croft at halfback - a reward for deputising so well at fullback while Billy Slater was on Origin duty - earned praise.
Together with Cameron Munster, the edged the Warriors halves pairing of Shaun Johnson and Mason Lino in a key match-up.
"We just want him in our team and we think he deserves to be in our team," Bellamy said of Hughes.
"That doesn't take anything away from Brodie Croft, who's an excellent player. We just think a little bit of loyalty because he [Hughes] deserves it.
"We think he's got a real good footy mind and he gets some real good help from the two Camerons and Billy. I thought Jahrome was good tonight."