Sun 2 October 2016
ANZ Stadium - Crowd: 83625

50 years of hurt is over as the Sharks triumph

Cronulla Sharks have got their maiden premiership, holding off a fast finishing Melbourne Storm 14-12 in front of 83,625 fans at ANZ Stadium. 

It was a frantic, absorbing and sometimes even heart stopping but the majority of the crowd crammed into ANZ Stadium got the result they wanted - Cronulla Sharks are 2016 premiers, thanks mostly to a fast opening 20 minutes where they lead 8-nil.

From the opening kick-off, the Sharks had the weight of 50 years on their shoulders but they extinguished that with some tough defense in the opening set they rattled the Storm, who looked out of sorts in the opening forty. 

Maloney got them on the board with his penalty goal after a Marika Koroibete high tackle. The fans continued to get behind the Sharks, as they pinned the Storm with repeat set after repeat set. 

Sharks used a unique set piece to score the first try of the contest after 14 minutes. Ben Barba packed into the scrum, and picked it up from the base to slice through some slack Melbourne defense to send the fans into raptures. 

While the rest of the first half was scoreless, it wasn't without incident. Melbourne almost took residence underneath the posts as Koroibete saved their blushes several times. Sosaia Feki was inches away from touching down. It looked like destiny had finally smiled on the team from the shire but there was forty more minutes to endure. 

Melbourne Storm were never going to go quietly into the night, it was the unlikely source of Jesse Bromwich who got the first points. The Kiwi prop spun away from three defenders and slammed it down to make it 8-6. 

The tide was starting to turn, as Melbourne were getting over halfway every set. The Sharks were hanging on, as they forced a few more repeat sets - but Melbourne led by Cameron Smith, 72 tackles on the night, produced a magnificent defensive display. 

Queensland centre Will Chambers gave the Storm their only lead of the contest when he ignored Koroibete and ducked past three defenders to slide over the try-line. 12-8 Storm and could the football gods be cruel to deny the Sharks once more? 

Nope they would shine on the Shire. Andrew Fifita, a maligned figure across the season took on several defenders, was able to swerve and just plant the ball down underneath the sticks. Maloney converted and the trophy cabinet was ready to be filled. 

They had to endure some heart in mouth moments, as Melbourne had two huge opportunities to break their hearts. First Chambers, ignored Cooper Cronk in support and was tackled. Next on their frantic last play, as the Storm flung it left, right and everywhere.. but Koroibete was tackled. The drought was over and everyone in the Shire could turn their porch lights off. 

Luke Lewis was awarded the Clive Churchill medal for his performance and retiring hooker Michael Ennis goes out a winner. For Melbourne, they came up just short as history decided it was time. 

3. Matt Prior

Monumental effort from the journeyman forward. He was making metres every tackle and led from the front.

2. Michael Ennis

Finishes his career on a high.. and was at the Storm all night. He was a machine.

1. Cameron Smith

71 tackles from him and he led the Storm's comeback for the second half.