From the Last Word on Rugby department.
After a year of being ‘almost perfect’ Craig Bellamy and his Melbourne Storm team have claimed another NRL Telstra Minor Premiers title. Officially, this is the third time the side have been top of the league table – but true followers of rugby league will know, the Storm have in recent memory made the JJ Giltinan Shield their own.
What Craig and his side will want even more though, is to turn ‘top qualifier’ into the top dog and Premiership winners medals.
A feat they have lost more frequently, than they have won. Last year, or think 2010, and the resulting loss of Premiership titles. While we are a long way past those sorry times, in 2017 fans will ask ‘what has changed?’
Mature Melbourne Storm Sublime in 2017
If anything, the side has matured like a fine wine. Probably taking more bruises than most professional sports teams have; with Premierships taken away, fines applied and derision from the Sydney league purists.
But through that, supremo coach Bellamy and his band of superstars have just improved year-on-year.
Like the 2015 All Blacks group, this may well be the ‘peak year’ for many of the Storm’s favourite players. Cooper Cronk (see above image) is definitely in his final year. He just played his 300th game, with team mate Cameron Smith has played even more [a new record] with Billy Slater, they are all surely playing some of their best footy.
The statistics tell the story in 2017:
- 633 points scored – the most ever in a season
- 112 tries scored
- conceding just 299 points through 23 rounds
- third in all-run meters, behind only the Dragons and Broncos.
This balance in statistics is what earns Melbourne the minor premiers title. And leading professional sports teams all demonstrate those same metrics. High standards and strong fundamentals, the basics of success.
Melbourne Storm Seal NRL Telstra Minor Premiers Title in 2017
Melbourne have been called many things. Among them ‘cheats, wrestlers, boring and stylized’. But in essence, the Craig Bellamy coached Storm are a finishing school for talented players. They are an organization that has; and can, mold players. Think Jesse Bromich, Cameron Munster and Tohu Harris.
And while the results on the field now show reward to earn the Minor Premiers title, that is also where a longterm investment is showing true resolve to build the game in Victoria.
“Our place is like Harvard, you don’t send your kid to Tafe to learn law, you send them to Harvard, it’s as simple as that,” Melbourne Storm recruiter Paul Bunn told the Herald Sun.
“If they’re a decent enough player and a decent enough man, our system will get them there.”
“There is no better in the game of the rugby league than our system,” and the recent years of consistent results prove that.
Minor Premiers Hold the Advantage in Finals Series
— FOX SPORTS NRL (@FOXNRL) September 3, 2017
The elite competition may well have only just begun. The top eight – it speaks of high performance, and rugby league fans know that; even if their favourite teams were eliminated, can expect the best.
Last Word on Rugby will follow the NRL Finals Series, with a wrap-up of week one playoffs, and then the qualifying finals format to determine the last four sides in the 2017 title hunt.
Sure, the chances are high that a performing Melbourne Storm team will be there. If anything can be found from the regular season, it is that ‘the cream rises to the surface’. And, Melbourne are certainly the creme de la creme of Australian Rugby league.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images