WHILE the Storm Captain and Coach showed great sportsmanship they couldn’t help but feel they let an opportunity slip after their 14-12 loss to the Sharks in the 2016 Grand Final.
While Smith gave possibly the best speech by a losing Grand Final skipper after the heartbreaking loss the anguish was there on his coaches face at the post match press conference.
“Disappointment I suppose,” a dejected Bellamy said when asked what the feeling among his squad was like.
“There are a lot of emotions going around at the moment but that is probably the main one.”
The Grand Final was truly a game of two halves with the Sharks dominating the opening stanza before the dogged Melbourne outfit stormed home in the second but it wasn’t enough admitted Bellamy.
“They got the jump on us in the first half but I felt our fellas did a great job not to be more than 8-0 down.
“We probably didn’t defend as well as we could have, should have or would have liked to in the first half and that gave them momentum and sucked the juice out of us.”
The Storm had to make over 70 more tackles than the Sharks in the first period and Cronulla continued their dominance into the second forty.
“I thought the second half started like the first half and then after 10 minutes we started getting back in the fight again,” Bellamy said.
“We definitely had the best of the last half hour but that eight points was always going to be hard to drag back.
“Before the game I was really proud of what we had done this year and nothing has changed for me.
“At the end of the day we were minor premiers, we had the best for and against in the competition, we made our way to a Grand Final.
“There will be lots of negatives written by the media about what we did and didn’t do but at the end of the day it is hard to get into a Grand Final and it’s extra hard to win one.”
Bellamy singled out the final penalty that led to the Andrew Fifita match winner for special attention.
“Before the Fifita try I thought the penalty was a bit tough because we were defending our try line really well and Christian Welsh cuffed someone around the head but he was about a foot off the ground so I’m not sure where he was meant to tackle him.
“Having said that, that is just the way the game goes.”
A clearly emotional Bellamy singled out his players for special praise in the midst of criticism they received pre-match about their conduct on and off the field.
“They have been magnificent for our club and for our game,” Bellamy said.
“Sometimes I don’t feel they get the wraps they deserve not just about the way they play but also how they conduct themselves on and off the field.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Cronulla, I think they were much the better side tonight especially in that first half.”
Cameron Smith was heroic making 71 tackles for the Storm but it was little consolation for the Melbourne skipper who echoed his coach post match.
“We are quite a resilient side,” Smith beamed through a weary wry smile.
“We are a mentally tough team and a physically tough team and we backed ourselves to come in at halftime and get back in the game and we did that.”
When Will Chambers went over Smith felt his side would do enough to hold on but it wasn’t to be.
“When Chambers scored I thought lets just ice this game like we always do but the Sharkies showed they are a great outfit as well.
“They have been very good all year and to come back and not panic and they chanced their hand a couple of times and Fifita ended up under the posts and they got the two point win.”