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Craig Bellamy lashes out at ‘disappointing’ Storm for admitting ‘soft’ attempts in shock loss against Raiders

Craig Bellamy slams ‘disappointing’ Storm for admitting tries ‘soft as butter’ in shock elimination final loss to Raiders

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Craig Bellamy lamented his team’s ‘disappointing’ defensive effort as Melbourne allowed Canberra too many ‘soft’ attempts in their final loss on Saturday.

The Raiders won 28-20 to secure a fifth straight win in as many trips to AAMI Park and booked a semi-final against Parramatta next week, as the Storm season is over.

It marks Melbourne’s earliest exit from the NRL final since 2014, when they lost 28-4 to Canterbury in the elimination final.

Craig Bellamy lamented his team's 'disappointing' defense against Canberra

Craig Bellamy lamented his team’s ‘disappointing’ defense against Canberra

After the game, Bellamy said the inconsistent display encapsulated the Storm’s difficult season.

“We’re letting in too many points – you don’t win a final match if you let the opponent score 28 points,” he said.

“They also scored a few soft ones, as soft as butter, and that was the disappointing thing.”

The Storm has been paralyzed by injuries all season and missed seven players on Saturday night, including star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen.

The Storm suffered an exit from the finals in week 1 for the first time since the 2014 season

The Storm suffered an exit from the finals in week 1 for the first time since the 2014 season

The Storm suffered an exit from the finals in week 1 for the first time since the 2014 season

Jordan Rapana (right) won the Raiders game with a try seven minutes from time

Jordan Rapana (right) won the Raiders game with a try seven minutes from time

Jordan Rapana (right) won the Raiders game with a try seven minutes from time

Bellamy admitted that injuries had eventually taken their toll, but refused to use the absence of some key players as an excuse.

“It’s been a difficult year, a long year with the injuries we’ve had and few other things,” he said.

“I thought the boys did a good job to finish where we finished, but it was disappointing to put in that performance, especially defensively.”

Meanwhile, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart paid tribute to his players for disrupting the Storm and praised Melbourne for making the Raiders’ lives as difficult as possible.

The Raiders play in the semi-finals against Parramatta in Sydney on Friday evening

The Raiders play in the semi-finals against Parramatta in Sydney on Friday evening

The Raiders play in the semi-finals against Parramatta in Sydney on Friday evening

“It was a rough night, Melbourne did a really good job coming out of their end and we didn’t get a good ball,” he said.

“The way the players persevered tonight makes me so proud […] We were on our feet in a number of phases of that game in both the first and second half. You have to be a good football team to beat Melbourne here. There’s no secret, you just have to show up and play well.’

With tough brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Brandon Smith and Felise Kaufusi all leaving the Storm next season, Melbourne will look drastically different in 2023.

Canberra, meanwhile, will face the Eels for the first time next week at the CommBank Stadium.

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