The 9 games that defined the Sharks season
Round 1: Sharks (14) def. by Cowboys (20)
Away from home, against the reigning Premiers – and the side that that inflicted a 39-0 defeat the last time the sides met – the Sharks Round 1 trip to Townsville was never going to be an easy task.
A late try to Ethan Lowe meant the Cowboys would claim the two points, though the effort on display by the Sharks had showed the leaps and bounds that the side had made across the off-season.
Memories of the 2015 Semi Final loss were quickly erased, and the platform was laid for a serious crack at the 2016 Premiership from the season’s get-go.
Round 4: Sharks (14) def. Storm (6)
Coming off a Round 3 loss to Manly at Brookvale, the Sharks bounced back in the following week to score a gritty win over a classy Storm outfit at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The win was one not earned without plenty of fight, and was the first in a run of 16-unbeaten games.
Round 9: Sharks (30) def. Broncos (28)
Both the Sharks and the Broncos went into the pair’s Round 9 clash in search of five consecutive wins.
Five-tries-to-one in the first half set the tone for the Sharks, who managed to stave off a resurgent Broncos side to hang on for a two-point win.
League great Peter Sterling heaped glowing praise on the Sharks first half performance saying “That’s the best half of football I’ve ever seen.”
The win over the Premiership hot-shots again confirmed the Sharks credentials for higher honours come the season’s end.
Round 10: Sharks (62) def. Knights (0)
A Club-record win over a depleted Knights outfit in Round 10 showed not only were the Sharks able to score points – and plenty of them – but also that there was a relentless desire to put teams to the sword when given the chance to do so.
That, a key trait in any Premiership winning side’s make-up, let alone one in search of a first NRL title.
Round 18: Sharks (26) def. Panthers (18)
On the back of 12-consecutive wins, though missing five key players to State of Origin duties, the Sharks welcomed three debutants to first grade action to record a win in a stirring performance at the foot of the mountains.
In what hooker Michael Ennis has since described as the game that the side was “meant to lose”, the end result read anything but as a dominant, resilient Sharks outfit put paid to the fancied Panthers.
Round 21: Sharks (18) drew w. Titans (18)
‘The draw we had to have.’
90 minutes couldn’t split the Sharks and Titans who – though not without plenty of field goal attempts – went on to record a ‘Golden Draw’ with the Gold Coast.
The draw put an end to the team’s 15-game winning run, and reined in the Sharks focus heading into the back end of the season.
Round 26: Sharks (6) def. by Storm (26)
Billed as the battle for the Minor Premiership, the Sharks took to Melbourne to face a clinical Storm outfit in front of a record crowd at AAMI Park.
5 first-half linebreaks for the Sharks – though not taken advantage of – showed the side had the ability to trouble the Storm, and were confident of doing so if given the chance later on in the season.
And, the rest is history.
Qualifying Final: Sharks (16) def. Raiders (14)
Without Captain Paul Gallen and losing stand-in skipper Wade Graham to concussion early, the Sharks faced a momentous challenge to down the Raiders in front of the Canberra faithful.
Down by 12 inside the game’s opening quarter, the Sharks rallied to score a win that, in time, will be remembered as one of the Club’s best.
“Three weeks ago I was in hospital, I couldn’t walk. I watch them blokes beat Canberra. I was crying on my lounge, I was just so proud of them,” Gallen said of the win over the Raiders in the moments following the NRL Grand Final.
Grand Final: Sharks (14) def. Storm (12)
Putting an end to 49-years of heart ache, the Sharks win over the Storm in the 2016 Grand Final will never be forgotten.
Against arguably the League’s most consistent, most professional Finals outfit, the Sharks rose to the task on the biggest stage in front of 83,625 willing fans to score a late come-from-behind try, and to seal a maiden NRL title.
So long may they sing Up, Up Cronulla, for anyone and everyone involved with the Sharks in 2016 will remember it as the year when history happened.