Competition - NRL
Round - Round 26
Teams – Melbourne Storm v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Date –    3rd of September 2016
Venue – AAMI Park, Melbourne VIC
Photographer – Brett Crockford
Description –

Games: 27
Wins: 21
Losses: 6
Result: Minor Premiers/Grand Finalists

Storm kicked off the season with three straight wins despite playing below their best.

Marika Koroibete scored a double in a season-opening win against the Dragons while Will Chambers did the same the following week in a 34-16 triumph over the Gold Coast.

Two losses soon followed against the Sharks and Bulldogs before a Round 7 golden point-win over Wests Tigers saw Melbourne hit their straps.

Cooper Cronk’s 85th minute field goal kick-started a stellar run for Storm that saw them win 13 of their next 14 games to move into top spot on the NRL ladder.

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The team managed to do that whilst also experiencing one of the longest injury lists the Club had seen. With their outside back stocks all but depleted, Cheyse Blair, rookie Suliasi Vunivalu and mid-season signing Ryan Morgan were all handed Storm debuts.

For the first time in the Club’s history, Storm kept their opponents scoreless in consecutive weeks, first on ANZAC Day against the Warriors (42-0) then the Titans a week later (38-0).

Round 10 saw the Melbourne take part in the first ever NRL Double Header in front of 52,347 fans – the largest non-finals crowd of the season. That night Cameron Smith helped Storm to a thrilling one-point win over the Cowboys with a field goal in the 71st minute.

Melbourne then went through the Origin period with a 5-1 record, its best performance during this part of a season in six years. Big away wins over the Roosters and Broncos by 46 and 42 points respectively were the highlights.

Vunivalu scored three tries that night against Brisbane to make it 16 tries from his opening 10 games. The 20-year-old ultimately finished with 23 for the season to finish the year as the NRL’s leading try scorer.

The final game of the season saw the men in purple clinch the Club’s first Minor Premiership since 2011 with a 26-6 win over Cronulla.

They backed up their efforts in week one of the finals, defeating the reigning premiers North Queensland 16-10.

After earning a week off, Craig Bellamy’s side booked their place in a sixth Grand Final in 11 years, narrowly defeating the Canberra Raiders 14-12. That game also broke a new record for Storm as it was the first time in history the Club recorded four consecutive home crowds of 20,000-plus.

Storm then gave their absolute all against the Sharks in the Grand Final and took the lead with 15 minutes to play however they were ultimately piped for the top prize, going down 14-12.