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Sharks win first premiership in 60 years but outsiders for 2017

NRL Sharks Premiers

TURN off the porch lights because the Cronulla Sharks have finally ended their Premiership drought, taking out the 2016 NRL Grand Final in a nail-biting 14-12 clash against Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium.

It was the Sharks’ third appearance in a grand final, having finished runner-up in 1973 and 1978, with Sunday’s performance their first Premiership win since joining first-grade back in 1967 – officially the longest Premiership drought in the history of the NRL.

It was a stellar performance from the boys in black, white and blue who had to contend with a plethora of injuries during the game, with Matt Prior and Jayson Bukuya both undergoing concussion tests and Sosaia Feki coming off the field just after half time when sustaining a leg injury.

Jack Bird virtually played the entire game with one wing after injuring his elbow in the opening few moments. Despite their injury woes, the boys from the Shire dominated throughout – with a penalty goal kicked by James Maloney establishing the score at 2-0 during the seventh minute.

Cronulla maintained their pressure throughout the opening half, with Luke Lewis getting within a whisker of scoring less than 15 minutes in, before the Sharks pulled off a scrum-based play as Ben Barba slammed his way across the white line.

Maloney converted the try soon after, with the score staying locked at 8-0 heading into half time.

The Storm managed to claw their way back into the contest in the 53rd minute, with Jesse Bromwich scrambling over the line despite the best efforts of Cronulla’s Mick Ennis, with the try converted by Cameron Smith.

Melbourne continued to battle, with Will Chambers scoring 15 minutes from full-time to put the Storm in the lead for the first time in the game. Smith’s second conversion of the match took the score to 12-8 and put the Sharkies’ fairy tale in jeopardy.

Ten minutes to go and Melbourne were displaying the brutal defence which saw them collect the Minor Premiership as the Sharks continued to throw themselves at the purple wall.

Despite running into a stack of Melbourne defenders, Andrew Fifita was able to muscle his way over the try-line, locking the score at 12-all before Maloney kicked a two pointer from directly in-front of the goal posts.

With 83,625 people in attendance, Cronulla weren’t going to be defeated, digging deep to hold off some flashy passes from the Storm in the closing few moments.

The victory gave Paul Gallen, the most experienced NRL player to have made his grand final debut, his first Premiership ring after 279 games for Cronulla, while it was also a fitting farewell for Mick Ennis who now retires having finally hoisted the Provan-Summons trophy.

Sharks outsiders in 2017 market at Sportsbet

Can the Sharks become the first team to score back to back Premierships since the Brisbane Broncos achieved the herculean feat back in 1997/98?

Cronulla have now been installed as a $9 chance to do precisely that in 2017, with the North Queensland Cowboys remaining the favourites at $6.

Beaten grand finalist the Melbourne Storm have been been installed an $8 chance at, with plenty to like about their prospects despite the heartbreak of the loss.

2017 NRL Premiership Odds

North Queensland Cowboys $6
Brisbane Broncos $7
Melbourne Storm $8
Cronulla Sharks $9
Penrith Panthers $9
New Zealand Warriors $11
Canberra Raiders $12
Sydney Roosters $13
South Sydney Rabbitohs $13
Manly Sea Eagles $13
Parramatta Eels $13
Gold Coast Titans $17
Canterbury Bulldogs $21
West Tigers $34
St George Illawarra Dragons $81
Newcastle Knights $251

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