Matt Harris, Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com
Cronulla finally broke a 321-minute points drought before going on to record a miraculous 24-22 victory over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
After falling to 22-0 deficit early in the second half, the Sharks scored 24 unanswered points to post just their third win of the season.
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Re-live our match commentary
Brisbane led 16-0 at the break and extended that
advantage a further try when Dave Hala crossed for his second try in the 43rd minute.
But the visitors, who enjoyed 64 percent of second half
possession, scored three tries in the space of 10 minutes to narrow the score
to 22-18 to set up a grandstand finish.
And the shocked
Broncos could only watch as Sosaia Feki picked up the scraps off a Dale Copley grassed bomb to score the match-levelling try.
Cronulla were dealt a blow early when they lost Origin
star Luke Lewis in the second minute due to a
head clash with Jake Granville.
Lewis returned in the 17th
minute but lasted a further 10 minutes before succumbing to
For a team that had been held to three straight shutouts, Cronulla actually looked more likely to post first points, throwing the
ball around and stretching Brisbane on the edges.
But it was the more disciplined Broncos who stuck to their structure and posted first points in the 15th minute.
After forcing a line dropout, a blindside play instigated by Granville ended in Ben Hunt throwing a cutout to wingman Daniel Vidot to hand the Broncos a 4-0 lead.
The first penalty of the match in the 26th
minute went to Brisbane, who took full advantage by crossing for their second try.
Hunt was again the distributor, dishing off to Alex Glenn who was running back
at an angle. Hunt added the extras for a 10-0 lead.
But another penalty gave Broncos another opportunity to extend their lead, and it was that man again - Hunt - who
feigned his shot at a try and instead found Dave Hala on his left
side for only the second try of his career.
The Broncos No. 7 made no mistake with the conversion and the home side had a comfortable 16-0 lead at the break.
Cronulla had the worst possible start to the second half, almost instantly turning over possession. And from the
resulting set, Granville turned the ball on the inside for Hala who
steamrolled his way over for his second try.
And just like that, three minutes into the second half, Brisbane had what looked to be an unassailable 22-0 advantage.
But the Sharks responded with some composed football that
resulted in three sets on Brisbane's line.
And it was in that third set where Todd Carney delivered a pin-point cross-field kick for Jacob Gagan, who
plucked the ball out of the air and jubilantly celebrated his first NRL try.
But when it rains, it pours, and it didn't take long for the Sharks to get their second.
Carney was again the architect, sending the final ball for skipper Paul Gallen to charge over the line despite the attention of three Broncos defenders.
Michael Gordon nailed the
conversion to give the Sharks a 22-12 sniff in the 60th minute.
That sniff turned into a stench and Carney was rewarded for
his two previous try assists with a try himself. Gordon added the extras, reducing the deficit to four with just 15 minutes
With Brisbane ending the game nervously, Cronulla looked more likely to cross the line heading into the final seven minutes.
And as the clock ticked away, Carney sent a bomb in the direction of Dale Copley who
spilt the ball into the path of the Sosaia Feki for the match-levelling try. Gordon coolly potted over the game-winner, completing Cronulla's biggest comeback in its history.
Cronulla Sharks 24
(Jacob Gagan, Paul Gallen, Todd Carney, Sosaia Feki tries; Michael Gordon 4
goals) def. Brisbane Broncos 22 (Dave
Hala 2, Daniel Vidot, Alex Glenn tries; Ben Hunt 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium.
Half-time: Broncos 16-0. Crowd: 24,285.