3 Oct 2016

Cronulla Sharks win NRL grand final

6:17 am on 3 October 2016

Cronulla have won their first National Rugby League premiership, beating Melbourne 14-12 in a historic grand final in Sydney.

James Maloney of the Cronulla Sharks.

James Maloney of the Cronulla Sharks. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Sharks, without a trophy since joining the competition in 1967, dominated early for an 8-0 lead at half-time.

A ninth-minute penalty goal from James Maloney opened the scoring before Gallen sent Ben Barba over for the first try of the final in the 15th minute after a nicely worked scrum feed.

But in the second half Cronulla conceded two tries to let the Storm back in the game.

Jesse Bromwich finally put Melbourne on the board with a try in the 50th minute, before Will Chambers crossed out wide to put the minor premiers into the lead for the first time in the 64th minute.

But the Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita sealed the famous win with a try under the posts in the 70th minute, which was converted by James Maloney.

The Storm did make several try-scoring attempts in the final few minutes of the match, to keep the fans on the edge of their seats.

Suliasi Vunivali ignored an unmarked Cooper Cronk with two minutes to go before Cronulla's Ricky Leutele killed the Storm's final attacking play by tackling Marika Koroibete just short of the Sharks line as the fulltime siren sounded.

Fifita said he was lost for words after the match.

Sharks prop Andrew Fifita during Cronulla's 2016 NRL Grand Final win

Sharks prop Andrew Fifita during Cronulla's 2016 NRL Grand Final win Photo: Photosport

"To score the winning try is incredible, I don't know where it came from. I was just rolling," he said of his four-pointer, which he scored by spinning his arms free and grounding the ball over the line in an unlikely manoeuvre.

Fifita was well supported in the grand final by James Maloney and Luke Lewis, who was controversially awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match.

Sharks captain Paul Gallen set a record for the most games played, 279, for a premiership win and said it was a tough-fought final.

"I thought I was going to pass out at the end there," Gallen said.

"We wanted it more, that was what it boiled down to."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said it was always going to be tough to fight back from 8-0 down.

"They got the jump on us early and we didn't get into the game," Bellamy said.

"There are a lot of of emotions swirling around right now but disappointment is the overriding one.

"We didn't defend as well as we could have or should have in the first half and that sucked a lot of juice out of us."