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Incredible Sharks comeback earns premiership victory

The Cronulla-Caringbah Sharks have produced an incredible second-half comeback to claim an enthralling 32-30 victory over Ryde-Eastwood Hawks in the Sydney Shield Grand Final at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday.

The Hawks, who finished with the Minor Premiership and were searching for back-to-back premierships, produced a rampant first-half performance that saw them cross for five unanswered tries to take a seemingly unassailable 26-0 lead after 30 minutes. 

That was before Michael Lichaa and Man of the Match Kamren Cryer orchestrated a stunning comeback for Cronulla-Caringbah that saw them cross for four consecutive tries of their own, which saw wingers Brent Anderson and Daniel Perkins cross for a hat-trick and two tries respectively. 

Perkins second try sent the Sharks faithful into raptures when he scored with just five minutes remaining, before a clutch sideline conversion from Kamren Cryer and match-winning try to Hayden Fepuleai sent them into euphoria. 

The Hawks produced some defiant defensive efforts to hold out the Sharks at various stages, and looked to have won the match after Justin Frain crossed for his second try with 10 minutes to play. 

While it was a heart-stopping finish in the 2020 decider, it was all one way traffic in the opening stanza with the Hawks dominating from the opening set of six. 

Fullback Curtis Wilson broke the deadlock when he supported a Tyler Seymour burst through the middle before Liam Scolari crossed just moments later to give the Hawks a comfortable 10-0 lead after 15 minutes. 

A perfectly timed pass from Adam Rizk sent a rampaging Justin Frain on a 40m surge to the try-line before Seymour rightfully got his name on the scoresheet with a carbon copy play on the other side of the field. 

Player of the Year Reginald Alofipo then stamped his authority on the encounter with a bustling run on the left-edge before offloading to Bennett Wheelhouse to take an unassailable 26-0 lead. 

A quick change of momentum saw the Sharks finally hit the scoreboard after Daniel Perkins crossed out-wide courtesy of a magic pass from Lichaa. 

Anderson then reaped the rewards of a classy backline movement to cross for his first of the afternoon before his second-half brace well and truly gave the Sharks a chance at victory. 

They had a chance to earn a quick reprieve immediately after Frain's second try of the afternoon, but Sharks prop Hayden Fepuleai scored a miracle try for Cronulla-Caringbah in the dying minutes of the match, followed by a successful conversion to put them up 32-30.

The Hawks were determined to end the game with the trophy in their hands but a penalty to the Sharks in the final seconds of the match ensured they would snatch the premiership trophy from the hands of Ryde-Eastwood.