An emotional Paul Gallen after the Cronulla Sharks win the NRL Premiership.
An emotional Paul Gallen after the Cronulla Sharks win the NRL Premiership.

Paul Gallen: Turn the porch lights off, Sharks win

An incredible 69th minute try by hulking forward Andrew Fifita sent a majority of the 83,000 spectators into raptures over a gallant Melbourne Storm.

The 14-12 win victory broke a 49 year drought for the Cronulla Sharks.

It was a weekend for the "battlers" after the Western Bulldogs broke a 61 year dry spell against the Sydney Swans in Saturday's AFL grand final.

Melbourne launched an amazing last moment 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.

Melbourne had not long came back from 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 1995, this Cronulla 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.

Once he got onto the stage to seize the Provan-Summons trophy, Gallen finally had the chance to put Jack Gibson's great line to bed.

Gibson, one of the all-time greats in the rugby league coaching ranks, once said, ''Waiting for Cronulla to win a premiership is like leaving the porch lamp on for Harold Holt.''

"To all you people back in the shire, turn your porch lights off because we're coming home with the trophy,'' a triumphant Gallen said on the stage.

Cronulla players, coaching staff and officials share a special moment together singing the club song "Up Up Cronulla" in the middle of an empty ANZ Stadium where hours earlier this had created history beating Melbourne Storm 14-12 to win their first premiership in 50 seasons in front of 83,500 rugby league fans.

Our rugby league writer, Wayne Heming, who was covering his last game before retiring, captured the special moment for us on video.

Earlier, 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 lock, 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-winners 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 churned through 71 tackles.

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

After three failed grand final attempts -- twice to Manly in 1973 and 1978 and a Super League grand final loss to Brisbane in their last grand final in 1995 -- this Cronulla team, led by an inspiration Gallen, was not going to suffer the same fate.

The curse is over.

Up, up Cronulla.

A selection of quotes from the winning Cronulla players after the grand final thriller won 14-12 breaking the club's 50 year premiership wait.

   Five-eighth James Maloney: "They'll being going nuts down there in the Shire, it's going to be a big couple of days."

   Centre Jack Bird: "I thought it (arm) was broken"  I wasn't coming off. I got some needles at half time and it went numb. Nothing would have got me off the field.

    Forward Wade Graham: "There's nothing better than that. What about big Fifita (team-mate) Andrew Fifita, he's a freak, that's the type of stuff he can do.  He's an athlete. How good is it, it's brilliant.

"I was nervous all day and had butterflies when I was packing my gear but when I got on the bus heading out of Cronulla there were people out on the street cheering and crying and it made me feel good. After 50 years, we're taking it (premiership trophy) home with us.

     Halfback Chad Townsend: "This club has been waiting 50 years and to be part of the team that brings one home it's something I will never forget in my life. We knew it would take 80 minutes and we kept hanging in and turning up for each other."

 Fullback Ben Barba: "It an unbelievable feeling. You never want a lose on a day like today. This is unreal and I'm glad we could deliver this to our fans. I thought I was gone a few years ago."

"I contemplated walking away because I was letting down my teammates and not playing to my potential. But with the help of my partner Ainsley who believed in me and stuck by me and the help of the club I got through it. I am glad I could pay them all back tonight."

  

  Forward Chris Heighington: "Not all super heroes wear capes. I was so nervous near the end but we got it done. It's unreal. I thought the first time (Tigers 2005) but this is very special."
 
     Captain: Paul Gallen:  "I didn't know if I was going to pass out or get on the stage after the game, I just wanted to be left alone. So proud of the boys. We knew how good their players were but at the end of the day it was going to take more than talent to win this game and we wanted it more."

    Coach: Shane Flanagan: "I am still a bit numb to tell you the truth. That last tackle, I could see it slipping away and it could have been taken away from us, that's how close it was. One tackle had to be made and somehow we made it."

  



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