Storm wary of desperate Panthers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm wary of desperate Panthers

By Liam Fitzgibbon 24/08/2008 12:27:25 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says the reigning premiers are wary of a dangerous run to the finals which includes some of the NRL's most desperate teams.

The table-topping Storm head into Monday night's clash with Penrith at CUA Stadium on track for successive minor premierships, having won six from seven since State of Origin finished.

On paper their run to the finals is not exactly daunting, with matches against Newcastle and South Sydney to follow the Panthers clash.

But Bellamy said the Storm could not afford to cruise towards the finals and had to be aware they were facing teams willing to throw everything at them.

"We're going to be running into some desperate teams, teams that are fighting for their lives," Bellamy said.

"We certainly don't go into any game not expecting a tough game.

"That's the nature of this competition - it's fairly close."

Penrith must win at least two of their last three matches against the Storm, Warriors and Manly to be any chance of reaching the finals.

However, captain Petero Civoniceva said there was no talk of the `F word' among a team still rebuilding confidence after a shock 74-12 thrashing by Canberra a fortnight ago.

"We haven't really even spoken about it," Civoniceva said of what was need to make the top eight.

"After that Canberra game is was just a matter of us getting our confidence back in each other and obviously it was a game that took a fair bit out of us.

"Credit to the boys they turned it around (by thrashing the Bulldogs 52-16 last week).

"We definitely know how hard it is going to be against the Storm but if we play to our potential anything can happen."

The Storm will not return to Melbourne after Monday's match, instead moving up to the NSW Central Coast for a four-day training camp before Saturday's clash with the Knights.

"The more we can cut down on flights and the better we can recover between games, the more it will help us later on," Bellamy said.

The Storm will be without injured backrower Ryan Hoffman (ankle) against the Panthers, with Kiwi Test star Jeremy Smith coming in to replace him.

Penrith's veteran hooker Luke Priddis has been named to make his return but there is speculation he could be rest for the second straight week.

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