Eight months after grand final heartbreak, the Melbourne Storm have finally exacted their revenge on premiers Cronulla with an 18-13 win tonight at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
A James Maloney field goal eight minutes from time wasn't enough for the Sharks this week as the Storm scored late to emerge with the five point victory.
It was the Victorian side who burst out of the gates on wet night in the Shire, boom forward Felise Kaufusi crashing over from a Cam Smith short ball to open the scoring after just four minutes. Smith converted for 6-0.
A forward as first tryscorer is unheard of - but the first two tries going to men in the pack is even more unusual. That didn't stop Tim Glasby from being next to cross, just three minutes later after a penalty put the Storm in a great position.
The Storm looked to have made it three tries in the 23rd minute when Suliasi Vunivalu went over but a knock on into a Sharks player was ruled and put paid to any hopes of extending their lead. Cronulla doubled-down on their luck just a few minutes later when Luke Lewis made the best of a bad situation after a poor pass from Maloney, the veteran back rower claiming the reigning premiers' first of the evening.
Melbourne took the resulting 12-6 scoreline to the halftime but it was the Sharks who took control of the second half. At the 49th minute, Sosaia Feki became the first and only backline player on the field to grab a four-pointer out wide. Maloney's miss ensured the Storm held on to a slim lead, but a 63rd minute penalty goal closed that gap to have scores level at 12-all inside the final twenty.
Cometh the 72nd minute - cometh the Maloney. 'Jimmy' potted a close-range field goal to edge the premiers ahead, but the Storm had other ideas - Smith's short kickoff saw the visitors regain possession and by the end of the set, Kaufusi found himself in enough space to steam over the line and reclaim the lead for his side.
Smith's conversion set the Cronulla team a five-point margin to overcome in the final five minutes, and despite some hot-potato football, it wasn't to be for the Shire boys this time, Melbourne tasting victory over the Sharks for the first time since Round 26 last year.
Both sides enjoy home ground advantage next round with the Sharks hosting the Wests Tigers, while Melbourne are at home to the Cowboys at AAMI Park.