Melbourne broke Cronulla hearts with a dramatic late comeback to steal a thrilling 20-18 win at AAMI Park in Round 25 last year.
With the finals race down to the wire, the two finals contenders played out a surprisingly scrappy first half with Melbourne crossing first when Billy Slater grubbered for Sisa Waqa to score and the Sharks taking a narrow 6-4 half-time lead thanks to a determined run from Sam Tagataese. But it was Cronulla quickest out of the blocks after the break with Todd Carney kicking an early penalty goal, then quick hands to the right sending Nathan Stapleton over to make it 14-4.
Ryan Hoffman narrowed the gap when he plucked the scraps from a contested bomb to score although it looked like his efforts might be in vain when Isaac Gordon was ruled to have just grounded the ball to give his side a match-winning 18-10 lead.
But with the clock ticking inside the final three minutes, Hoffman produced again as he reached out to score next to the posts with Melbourne needing to go the length of the field to steal the win.
A great interchange between Slater and Cooper Cronk saw them do just that and in the final play of the game; Waqa fooled everyone when he darted to the blind side and sent Will Chambers over in the corner for a stunning win.
Incredibly, Cronulla completed 82 per cent to Melbourne’s 61 per cent and kicked for 691 metres to 385 but couldn’t get the job done.
Hoffman was superb for the home side, running for 162 metres, scoring two tries and making seven tackle-breaks.
Paul Gallen ran for a whopping 226 metres and made 27 tackles for Cronulla.