Sharks win motivated by bookies
They could've done it for their fallen star, their departed coach, their new sponsor or beleaguered fans.
And that's not to say they didn't, but for Sharks skipper Wade Graham, proving the doubting bookmakers wrong was the overarching motivation behind Cronulla's second miracle comeback in as many weeks.
Seemingly dead in the water when they trailed the premiers 24-0 three minutes before half-time, the Sharks rallied to claim one of the club's greatest ever victories, a 30-28 comeback that somehow trumps even last week's effort in hauling in the Broncos from 22-0 down at Suncorp Stadium.
With bookmakers offering odds of up to 50-1 prior to kick-off, and others suspending betting on wooden spoon markets in the wake of Todd Carney's sacking and Peter Sharp's resignation earlier in the week, Graham revealed the siege mentality that had inspired the Sharks to victory.
"The funny thing about rugby league players, most of them tend to have a bit of attitude," said Graham.
"If you write them off, they like to step up to the mark and say 'I told you so'."
"I've seen some odds in the paper. We were 50-1 or something. It was ridiculous. No one gave us a hope."
With assistant coach James Shepherd stepping into the void left by Sharp, the NRL's newest mentor said senior players had run the week's training sessions, while Graham was adamant the playing group had put the off-field dramas engulfing the club behind them as early as last Tuesday.
"I think we put it to bed pretty early in the week," said Graham.
"We got together on Monday and we had our say and by Tuesday morning it was over.
"All the players got together and we said, ‘We're not going to let it be a distraction, we're just going to get out there and do our job.'
"Over the last 18 months we've got pretty good at putting distractions to the side."
Having watched his side concede four tries to none early for the second consecutive week, Shepherd reminded them of what they had achieved just eight days previous, the biggest comeback in the club's history in an effort to inspire them to reach similar heights.
"They were in the same position; last week was a fantastic performance, again, led by the players," said Shepherd.
"We did mention it... It might have triggered a bit of thought in their head, that they believed they could still win."
With Graham himself instigating the revival late in the first half when he called for Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce to pass to him on the premiers' line, the Sharks skipper admitted he owed Pearce a beer for gifting one of the more bizarre tries seen this season.
"I might buy him a couple but I don't know if he's been on the drink since his last incident, but if he wants one I'll give him one," he said, as only winners can.