Retiring hooker Michael Ennis signed off in style as Cronulla Sharks ended their 49-year title drought with a 14-12 win over Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium.
Cronulla Sharks hooker Michael Ennis admitted that he thought his side had blown their chance of sealing a maiden NRL title when opponents Melbourne Storm hit the front with just 16 minutes left in Sunday's Grand Final.
The Sharks had led 8-0 at the break courtesy of Ben Barba's try and a James Maloney penalty, but the Storm replied through Jesse Bromwich and took the lead for the first time when Will Chambers grabbed their second try.
Despite Ennis' fears that his side's dreams were about to be shattered, however, they responded with a try of their own from prop Andrew Fifita and duly hung on to secure a gritty 14-12 victory.
The result ended the Sharks' 49-year title drought, marking a remarkable turnaround for the club which took out the wooden spoon in 2014 in the wake of a doping scandal.
And it also provided a fitting farewell for Ennis in what was his final appearance before retiring.
"I thought we were gone when Chambers scored," said the hooker.
"But Fifita, Fifita, I can't believe it!
"We created a heap of chances down there, Luke Lewis went through once. But the Storm are champions, they just cover and cover and cover. This is unbelievable."
Those sentiments were echoed by veteran skipper Paul Gallen who became the most experienced player ever to feature in his first Grand Final.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of these blokes," he said.
"Three weeks ago I was in hospital and couldn't walk. I watched them beat Canberra. I was crying on my lounge I was so proud of them. What they did again tonight... they are the best blokes. They are so good, so good.
"I can believe it because of the hard work we put in, but to do this, it's awesome. I'm just so proud of them and so happy."