The 12-0 deficit could have been much greater if not for some brilliant moments from Cody Walker and a double to Campbell Graham.
“He had a pretty good one two weeks ago but he was good tonight,” Bennett said after his team’s 26-16 loss at Central Coast Stadium.
“He threw some beautiful passes and made a few great runs himself. He was good.”
But while the Rabbitohs were able to hang tough with the Storm for 60 minutes, partly thanks to the Kaufusi sin bin from which Graham and Walker combined for the winger’s second, the cream eventually rose to the top – as was the case in the earlier match in Canberra where the Roosters quelled a growing school of thought that had the Raiders as premiership contenders.
But Bennett doesn’t believe the chase for the 2019 title is a two-horse race.
“If we played like we did last week against Cronulla, I would have said we may as well have not bothered turning up in September,” Bennett said.
“But we showed some real quality tonight, but we’re not perfect. I think most of the things that we can do better, we can fix up.”
Bellamy was content when he spoke to media after one of Melbourne’s “better” wins of the season.
“I thought it was one of the better wins of the year because of the circumstances,” Bellamy said.
“The closeness of the game at times, that wasn’t because of a lack of effort. It was effort all the time.
“That was one of our best effort performances of the year.”
Despite their dominance six points clear on top of the table, Bellamy believes the Storm may still have to find another gear to kick clear in September.
“We are going to have to find something a little bit extra at the end of the year,” Bellamy said.
“Everyone does if they are going to get the prize everyone is after. I think we still have got another gear in a couple of areas but, having said that, sometimes you find another gear in another area and you lose it in another area again.
“The thing that we are big on at the moment is trying to be consistent with our effort.
“Hopefully, in our way of thinking, that makes up for a little bit of lack of execution at times.”
Adam Reynolds limped through the second half and Bennett said that was due to a persistent lower back injury.
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.