'Worst conditions I've played in': Graham
Sharks second-rower Wade Graham has described the extreme conditions for Monday night's brutal victory over the Rabbitohs as the worst he has ever played in.
In front of a diehard contingent of 3,978 fans, the Cronulla Sharks put in one of the toughest performances in their club's almost 50-year history to defeat the defending premiers.
"It was pretty crazy, the worst I've ever played in condition-wise," Graham told NRL.com about a match that featured wind gusts of 80 kilometres per hour and torrential rain.
"It was one of those things both teams probably didn't know how to cope until they got out there.
"It was just such a tough game in the wet and the wind I think both teams handled it well and I'm just really happy to get the result."
Indeed both teams did adapt to the conditions well, with just 15 errors in the match an impressive stat considering the swamp in which they were playing.
"It was just typical wet-weather football, focusing on ball control and obviously with how the wind was it was crazy with the kicking so we sort of had to get out there and just test it out and make it up as we went," 24-year-old Graham said.
With 20 minutes left and the match evenly poised the Sharks arrested the growing momentum of the Bunnies with a huge defensive set sparked by a big chase and tackle from Luke Lewis on Luke Keary.
"It felt good when we were out there someone made a big tackle and the crowd got loud and the team responded so it's always good to see the team respond like that," Graham said.
"There was a patch in the second half where it felt like they had the momentum but through a few big plays from the boys we were able to get that momentum back.
"We got a repeat set, forced an error down on their line and we were able to get that try with a little bit to go to really seal the game."
Jayson Bukuya's game-winner with eight minutes left sent the passionate home crowd, some wearing gear suited for a swim in the ocean, into raptures, a mood they thoroughly deserved considering the conditions they braved to support their team.
"They were enormous," Graham said. "I can't say enough praise for the crowd.
"The conditions were like crazy and to get 3000, they're true supporters, they're the ones who support you through thick and thin and like I said, in that period where we changed the momentum we could hear the crowd.
"They were loud and we were just super stoked to have a crowd like that who can come out in these sort of conditions and that 3000 is worth 30,000 to us."
Monday night's victory makes it three on the trot for the resurgent Sharks who started the season unhappily with four straight losses.
"We really wanted the two points and I'm super proud of the boys for their effort and getting the two points… we're on a bit of a roll now hopefully we can keep it going."
To do so the Sharks will have to win at Penrith on Sunday, against a club where Graham spent the first three years of his NRL career.
"They're a really good team at home with some really good skill so I can't wait to get out to Penrith where it all began for me.
"I always enjoy going back out there so another tough game so we rest up recover and have a look at them and hopefully we can keep the roll going."