Minor premiers again, Melbourne missed out on their fourth straight Grand Final.
2019 Club Record
Competition Points: 42
2019 Player Achievements
Player of the Year: Dale Finucane.
Most Tries: Josh Addo-Carr (16).
Most Points: Cameron Smith (216).
After skating to the minor premiership, Melbourne would have expected to make another grand final, but it wasn’t to be.
A controversial loss to Canberra in the qualifying final (leading 10-6 for most of the second half before a late John Bateman try) ended hopes of a predicted grand final rematch with the Sydney Roosters.
Melbourne rebounded the following week with a 32-0 belting of Parramatta, booking a prelim against the Roosters at the SCG. Melbourne lost a fiery contest (14-6) to the Roosters, missing the grand final for the first time since 2015.
The regular season was almost perfect, winning 20 games.
They won their first five games, before an epic Good Friday clash with the Roosters. They trailed 20-0, levelled at 20-20, but lost by a Latrell Mitchell field goal in Golden Point. It was arguably the match of the year.
A one-point ANZAC Day win over the Warriors was followed a two-point loss to Cronulla-Sutherland. An angry Storm side took it out on Parramatta during Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park), winning 64-10. Then they won eight in a row. This included celebrating Cam Smith’s 400th game with a big home win against the Sharks. Another Golden Point thriller ended their streak, with Daly Cherry-Evans’s field goal giving Manly-Warringah an 11-10 win. After another big Lang Park win (belting Brisbane 40-4), the Storm started to get the wobbles. The round 22 loss to Canberra was psychologically massive for both teams. Leading 18-0 after 30 minutes, Melbourne should have won by 40. They didn’t count on the new, tenacious Green Machine, as the Raiders won 22-18 with a late try to Josh Papalii. It showed Canberra were a premiership threat, while Melbourne weren’t invincible, despite sitting comfortably in first place (and rebounding to win their last three games).
Cam Smith (Dally M Captain of the Year) finished third in points (216), behind Mitchell and Jarrod Croker, and kicked the most goals (104). If rumours of Smith retiring before 2020 are true, it could impact Melbourne’s future premiership hopes.
So how do we judge Melbourne’s year? After an amazing regular season, they should have made the grand final, but weren’t up to the pace of the Roosters or the resurgent Raiders. Don’t forget they’ve made three straight grand finals, an incredibly high standard to maintain. Surely Dally M Coach of the Year Craig Bellamy will have them ready for another grand final push in 2020.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
NSW-born Dale Finucane was a worthy Player of the Year winner. He played in 26 of the Storm’s 27 games (with a 20-6 record).The lock forward – on the cusp of NSW Origin selection – made 1201.3 post-contact metres, 814 tackles (a tackle efficiency of 91.9%), and averaged 129.2 running metres. That hard worked helped the Storm top the regular season point-scoring tally, with 631 (averaging over 26 points a game). Next year should be even bigger, with Finucane to play his 200th NRL game around mid-season.
2020 GAINS AND LOSSES
Solomone Kata (New Zealand Warriors, 2020), Max King (Gold Coast Titans, 2020), Isaac Lumelume (Cronulla Sharks, 2020).
Cheyse Blair (Castleford Tigers), Scott Drinkwater (North Queensland Cowboys), Patrick Kaufusi (released), Kayleb Milne (Cronulla Sharks), Joe Stimson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs).
Cameron Munster (2023).
Albert Vete, Billy Walters.