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Storm to learn from 2011 finals fade out

Published: 12:44PM Tuesday September 18, 2012 Source: AAP

  • Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy (Source: Photosport)
    Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy - Source: Photosport

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy claims he has learned from the mistakes which ruined his perfect preliminary final record and cruelled the Storm's 2011 premiership hopes.

Melbourne's loss to the Warriors on last NRL season's penultimate weekend was Bellamy's first loss in a grand final qualifier - defeat ending a run of four successive wins in corresponding fixtures.

The Storm appeared over-matched for both size and enthusiasm when they went down to the surging Warriors last year.

But, back for his sixth preliminary final in the past seven seasons, Bellamy is confident neither will be a factor in Friday night's blockbuster against bitter rivals Manly at AAMI Park.

"We've certainly got some bigger bodies there," Bellamy said, with props Jason Ryles and Richie Fa'aoso adding some bulk to the 2012 roster.

"It's a different situation to last year, it's a different team.

"We'd like to think we've learnt a couple of things from last year."

One recurring factor is the opposition, Friday night's meeting with Manly being the fourth time in the past six seasons they've clashed in a final - two of them being grand finals.

Together they are the most dominant sides of the past decade, their rivalry spilling over into an infamous sideline fight at Brookvale in 2011.

But Bellamy denied Friday night's winner would earn the right to any dynasty tag - though the familiarity would play a role.

"What's happened in the past is in the past," Bellamy said.

"What's important is this week.

"It's a different situation from all the other games, the teams are a bit different especially ours.

"... nine or 10 of their (Manly's) starters have been playing semi-final football for about six years.

"They know what semis are about and they know how to perform in the big games.

"They've changed a little bit this year with the new coach ... their mentality and how they go about their games I don't think has changed too much."

And what about emotions spilling over again?

"Obviously we've got to channel our emotion into what we do out there," he said.

"There's obviously been some things in the past between the two clubs but that is in the past and that won't matter come Friday night."

The Storm squad had an extra spring in their step at Monday's training session, the week off appearing to have been used to good effect.

Since the introduction of a top eight in 1999, 15 sides have won their preliminary final following the week off, with 11 losing for a 58 per cent strike rate.

Bellamy has won three on a fortnight's rest, his only loss being last year's 20-12 defeat to the Warriors.

"You'd like to be fresh and have that week off," Bellamy said.

"You know you're going to the next round and you'd like to think you're not going to get any more injuries.

"The other train of thought is momentum and match hardness - which Manly have got."

Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey admitted there was a silver lining to his side being forced to play against North Queensland last weekend.

"We would have liked the rest obviously, had some players with a few knocks and bruises," Toovey told Fox Sports.

"It was actually a good thing for us, we ended up finding some form against North Queensland and I think that will stand us in good stead for Melbourne."

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