Another woeful Melbourne Storm performance has prompted yet another grilling from coach Craig Bellamy, with the club's NRL season already teetering after a second straight loss to start the 2023 season. Bellamy questioned whether his side cared enough following the 38-34 defeat at the hands of the Gold Coast Titans.
It was a brutal loss for the Storm, who well and truly held the upper hand at half-time with a 24-18 lead in searing conditions in Queensland. Their hard work was unfortunately brought undone by two key errors soon after play resumed, leaving them to play catch-up with the Titans.
'WE NEED TO TALK': Andrew Johns calls for big change amid concussion move
Both sides scored six tries and converted five of them, but two penalty goals slotted by Gold Coast's Tanah Boyd in the sixth and 60th minutes proved to be the difference. Bellamy was somewhat at a loss to explain how the Storm could improve, following a horror defeat at the hands of the Canterbury Bulldogs in round two.
Bellamy said there was very little separating the two sides, not believing the Titans had shown anything more on defence than the Storm. What he did identify however, was a seeming lack of desire from his side.
"At times, the Titans were probably as bad as us with some errors that they made, but they hung on better than us,” he said after the match. “With all due respect, our problem at the moment is the care factor seems very, very low.
“You would think it would have been better yes… you might be able to tell me because I’m not quite sure how to fix it. As I said, to me we sort of worked a little bit harder defensively today, but they scored 18 points in six minutes just before halftime then two after halftime."
It was the first time the Titans had beaten the Storm at their home ground since 2013. It was a long-awaited breakthrough that was hailed by club captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.
Craig Bellamy is straight up not having a good time! 😭
📺WATCH #NRLTitansStorm on Ch. 502 or stream via @kayosports https://t.co/KU6O1WswuO
🔢 MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/ybPsWsUHXx pic.twitter.com/KLOGpsziXB
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) March 18, 2023
Noting that both the Titans tries, which proved the catalyst in their comeback, had come from Storm errors, Bellamy slammed the commitment of his players. He suggested that the 'care factor seems not too important' after the first three rounds of competition.
Club captain Christian Welch was also baffled by the club's poor performances in the last two games, after securing a narrow round one victory over Parramatta in round one. He said the clear through-line was that the Storm had been their own worst enemy in the two defeats.
“We are trying, we are just making life pretty difficult for ourselves, we have been one of the best teams over the last couple of weeks at doing stupid s**t,” Welch said. “Just taking the pressure off, we started the game all right and then some bad penalties, handling… big attitude adjustment.
“Probably lack of care, lack of respect for the ball, especially in those conditions, you keep turning the ball over and making errors, it is going to be a pretty long day.”
Storm issues mounting after second straight NRL defeat
Trailing 24-12 just before halftime, a Storm error opened the door and a late Brian Kelly try breathed life into the Titans' cause at Cbus Super Stadium. Two more unforced Storm knock-ons to begin the second half allowed Joe Vuna and Aaron Schoupp to run away for tries, while Tariq Sims coughed up a ball on his 20m line and Schoupp no sooner had his second.
That put the Titans up by 10, but a late Xavier Coates try proved another twist with less than four minutes to play. But two-try winger Alofiana Khan-Pereira tackled Will Warbrick into touch and a Trent Loiero shoulder charge was the final nail in the Storm's coffin.
Victory was crucial for a Gold Coast side that faded badly against St George-Illawarra last week, while the Cameron Munster-less Storm's problems mount after a loss to Canterbury. Things were looking up earlier when debutant five-eighth Jonah Pezet dummied and skipped around Aaron Schoupp for the Storm's first try, his delight obvious in front of family after a 2021 move from Newcastle.
His competent first-half performance was part of a wild 40 minutes played in oppressive heat, with Titans halfback Kieran Foran hooked, captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui reported for a shoulder charge and Jahrome Hughes also reported for his late bump on Tanah Boyd.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.