Sharks captain Paul Gallen holds aloft the trophy after winning the NRL grand final.
Sharks captain Paul Gallen holds aloft the trophy after winning the NRL grand final. DAVID MOIR

Fifita redeemed as the Sharks end their wait

AN INCREDIBLE 69th-minute try by hulking forward Andrew Fifita sent a majority of the 83,000 spectators into raptures at ANZ Stadium and broke Cronulla's 49-year premiership drought over a gallant Melbourne Storm, with a 14-12 win.

It was a weekend for the "battlers” after the Western Bulldogs broke a 62-year drought against the Sydney Swans in Saturday's AFL grand final.

Melbourne launched an amazing last frenzy to snatch a win with the ball going from one side of the field to the other before Storm winger Marika Koroibete was finally stopped 10 metres out.

The Storm had not long come back from an 8-0 deficit at half-time to lead 12-8 following a try to Storm centre Will Chambers, which appeared to have turned the momentum.

But after three failed attempts, twice to Manly in 1973 and 1978 and a Super League grand final loss to Brisbane in their last grand final in 1997, this Sharks team, led by inspirational captain Paul Gallen, was not going to suffer the same fate this time.

The two-point win broke the longest premiership drought in history.

The tears flowed immediately the full-time siren sounded, Gallen slumping to his knees with his head in his hands.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of these blokes,” said the exhausted prop, barely able to talk.

Retiring hooker Michael Ennis was overjoyed.

"I can't believe it. I thought we were gone when Chambers scored,” said a battered Ennis.

Match-winner Fifita, who has had a tough year with off-field issues, came up with the play of the game dragging four Storm players across the line for the biggest try of his life.

"I can't believe it,” he said.

Losing skipper Cameron Smith said Cronulla showed they were a "special team” to keep their composure in a tight finish.

"We weren't that good in the first half,” said Smith, who delivered through 71 tackles.

"With 15 minutes to go we looked like we had the game but you have to give credit to Cronulla, they were a special footy team.”

The curse is over.

Up, up Cronulla.



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