If the NSW Women’s drought had seemed like a big one, nothing compares to that of the Cronulla Sharks.
Having entered the NSWRL competition for the first time in 1967, the men from the Sutherland Shire had experienced little success since; apart from an AMCO Cup from 1979, the Sharks had never won any major silverware and had been runners-up in 1973, 1978 and the Super League of 1997. Having received the NRL wooden spoon just two seasons previously, few would have predicted their drought to break in 2016, but on a warm October night at ANZ Stadium, that is what happened.
The Sharks had experienced significant success throughout the regular season, including a 10-game winning streak that had them at the top of the table, but ultimately finished third heading into the finals. Two impressive wins over the Raiders and Cowboys earned them another Grand Final berth, where they would face off with minor premiers the Melbourne Storm. Many NSW fans backed the team to victory, as the Sharks featured five NSW VB Blues from 2016.
Ultimately, the game came down to just an eighth-minute penalty goal to VB Blues half James Maloney, as the Sharks defeated their opponents 14 points to 12. It brought long-awaited success to the Shire, wrote captain Paul Gallen into the history books and is a moment that no Rugby League fan will ever forget.