Match Report: Sharks score maiden NRL Title
The Sharks have recorded a 14 points to 12 win over the Melbourne Storm to claim the Club’s maiden NRL Premiership.
Played in front of a capacity crowd at ANZ Stadium, the match began with both sides trading blows and early field position.
It was the Sharks who would pressure the Storm first though forcing an early drop out and an attacking set early.
With the Sharks attacking the line through Chad Townsend, Storm winger Marika Koroibete rushed out of the line and hit the halfback high.
The Sharks would be awarded a penalty, Maloney add the two points and Koroibete placed on report.
The Sharks would continue to pressure the Storm however were unable to capitalise on quality field position as Townsend was unable to hold onto an Andrew Fifita pass.
It would be Maloney again who would break the game open, with a crafty show and go and was into space.
He found Luke Lewis on his inside and the veteran second rower was in space only to be brought down centre metres from the try line.
Maloney then kicked for the corner of Valentine Holmes however Koroibete knocked the ball into touch.
In what would be one of the plays of the 2016 Grand Final, Paul Gallen picked the ball up off the back of the scrum and played a soft inside ball to Ben Barba who would go over for the first try of the game.
Maloney converted the try to take the score to 8-0 after 15 minutes.
Both teams continued to trade blows in the middle part of the first half with Melbourne holding the lion’s share of possession.
However, the possession stats would even out into the later end of the half with both sides continuing to trade blows.
The Sharks lifted the tempo and pressured the Storm line once more.
Deep in the Storm end, Maloney went high to Sosaia Feki’s wing. The Tongan international went up for it however his opposite number Suliasi Vunivalu would knock the ball into touch and it would be a Storm drop out.
Buoyed by a raucous Sharks crowd, the boys in the black, white and blue continued to pressure the Storm line forcing another drop out with 2 minutes remaining.
The teams would go to the break with the score remaining 8-0 to the Sharks.
The Storm would get proceedings off in the second half and it would be the Sharks who would put the pressure on early.
Unable to convert good field position and giving away two simple penalties, the Sharks handed the Storm back possession and they were on the attack.
Pressing the Sharks line, Jordan Mclean trucked the ball up to within centre metres of the line.
Cameron Smith darted out of dummy half and found Kiwi international Jesse Bromwich running hard, to burst over the line and take the score to 8-4.
Smith converted the try and the score went to 8-6 after 51 minutes.
The Storm pressed the Sharks again off the kick-off and the Sharks would lose Jayson Bukuya for the night as he came off with a hand-knock after making contact with the knee of Tohu Harris.
The Sharks would then earn the ball back through a strong showing in defence.
The strong defensive effort translated into good attacking play with the Sharks forcing two repeat sets in quick succession.
The possession would come to no avail though as Wade Graham looked to grubber through the Sharks line only for Will Chambers to field the ball for the Storm.
Back in possession, the Sharks continued to attack the Storm line however a Townsend grubber would go dead in goal and hand the Storm a seven tackle set.
The Storm worked the ball deep into Sharks territory and it was Will Chambers who would cross over on the right edge and take the Minor Premiers into the lead 10-8.
Smith converted the try and the score was 12-8 with 15 minutes remaining in the match.
The Sharks then earned a reprieve when Ben Hampton was penalised for laying on the tackle and the Sharks were on the attack.
Working the ball up field, the Sharks would earn another penalty close to the Storm line. The Sharks would kick for touch and attack the line.
The decision would prove decisive as a rampaging Andrew Fifita would crash over with five Storm players on his back to go in under the sticks.
The try would even the match up and the score as 12-12.
James Maloney would convert and the score was 14-12 with 10 minutes on the clock.
With the game now in the Sharks’ hands, the big players from the Storm attempted to live their charges into the final minutes of the 2016 Grand Final.
The Storm continued to pressure the Sharks line and Chambers again broke through the Sharks line however missed a golden opportunity to take the lead with a pass to Cooper Cronk.
The attacking raid would come to nothing and the Sharks would work the ball deep down the field to the Melbourne Storm end giving them one final set.
With time ticking away, the Melbourne side threw one last shot at the Sharks, but the side’s scramble was enough to see the siren sound and to end a 49-year Premiership drought.