Strangled ... Josh Morris is swamped by the Storm. Photo: David Tease
CANTERBURY players admitted Melbourne did a great job with their rushing defence in the grand final.
All week the pre-match analysis had been about which side could best combat the other team's tactics. The Storm were going to attack through the middle, while the Bulldogs would bring the quick-passing style that had allowed them to consistently get on the outside of the defence and make it all the way to the last game of the season. In the end, the Storm handled the Bulldogs better than the Bulldogs handled the Storm.
''They did [rush up],'' said Bulldogs and former Storm prop Aiden Tolman. ''They've been looking at a lot of video of what we've been doing, but, in saying that, we probably didn't play smart enough against them. They defended really well, they did come up and rush our players, and full credit to them. They deserved to win.''
Centre Krisnan Inu added: ''Yeah, it was a bit unbelievable at times. One second the ball is just being played, and the next minute someone is in front of your face. Full credit to them, they probably worked hard on that during the week, and we came away second best.''
Tolman said he didn't feel it was a lack of grand final experience that beat the Bulldogs, but their poor first half. ''I think it came back to that,'' he said. ''They had a lot of possession. The first half, we weren't completing when we got the ball, and that is what these games come down to. They just rolled on and completed and ground us down, and we had to do a lot of defence. When you give them that many opportunities they're going to score sooner or later.
''It's very disappointing. We prepared well all week, and to go out there and perform like we did - we didn't complete and Melbourne took their opportunity. When you give them that much ball, they're going to break you. But the guys have to keep their heads up. They performed well all year. It's disappointing to lose one on this day, but life goes on.''
Inu has now played in three losing grand finals out of three, for Parramatta in 2009, the Warriors last year and now the Bulldogs. ''No game is easy, and grand finals are just as tough, especially coming up against Melbourne,'' he said. ''I said at the start of the week that they were finals specialists and you need to be on your toes … but we're happy about our year. In the end, someone has to win.''