NRL 2023: Melbourne Storm press conference, Craig Bellamy, Christian Welch, Panthers game, preliminary final

Storm coach Craig Bellamy has admitted his side must learn to play as consistently as the Panthers if they want to compete for the premiership next year.

Melbourne were thrashed 38-4 by two-time reigning premiers Penrith in their preliminary final on Friday night.

“We didn’t give ourselves a chance, we shot ourselves in the foot, blew our foot off actually,” Bellamy said.

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“We had some opportunities in the first half but we didn’t nail them. We didn’t complete well and we know what Penrith do, they just strangle you.

“If you make mistakes and put pressure on yourself, they’ll hammer you which they did tonight and it’s really disappointing for us to finish that way.

“They didn’t make a mistake until the 60th minute and that’s what they’ve been like for two or three years. They don’t make errors, know what they’re good at and continue to do that.

“They’re a really good defensive side and not many teams create the amount of opportunities that we did but we blew the lot, except for one.”

The Storm finished third on the ladder but were spanked by the Broncos in week one of finals before narrowly beating the Roosters to book their spot against the Panthers.

Bellamy said his side’s performances during the finals and against the Panthers was reflective of their season.

“Our game tonight was a small example of what we’ve been dishing up all year – up and down and inconsistency,” he said.

“If we didn’t know that before tonight we learned a good lesson tonight and hopefully we might be able to take something out of it for next season.

“It took us a little while to work out what our best foot was (this season) and what worked for us. We had some change in personnel in the off season so that took us a little while but it just kept creeping in every now and then.”

Bellamy said the Storm needed to be more consistent to contend for premierships.

“I think we did a good job to get to where we got to on the table but the finals series was basically what our season has been – up and down. You’re not going to go a long way in the competition unless you start evening that out,” he said.

“They are so good at what they do, their big players tonight played strongly without it being their best games and the other 13 or 14 play to 95 per cent and that’s what they do every week. They’re just so good at knowing what works for them, everyone knows what their job is and they’re that consistent at doing it.

“Whereas with us we just seem to go up and down. We need to learn to do what they do.”

Storm skipper Christian Welch added: “There’s a pretty good footy team there but we’re making errors, giving penalties away and you just can’t keep inviting a team like Penrith into your cave because they’re pretty lethal. Very disappointing end to the year.”

Originally published as ‘We need to learn’: Bellamy’s big Panthers admission after prelim thumping

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