Cronulla’s prelim final hoodoo

It’s the most damning record in rugby league finals history and now Cronulla must smash a 43-year hoodoo to qualify for their first premiership decider since 1978.

No club since preliminary finals were introduced in 1954 have lost six in a row in unified competitions, except the ill-starred Sharks.P

Falling a game short of a season decider for a seventh consecutive time since they lost the 1978 grand final replay against Manly doesn’t bear thinking about for long-suffering Sharks fans.P

Super League aside, the Sharks’ last preliminary final win in a united competition was a 20-11 victory over Newtown in 1973 before they lost 10-7 – also to Manly – in the club’s first-ever grand final.P

Just as disconcertingly going into Friday night’s showdown with defending premiers North Queensland, the Sharks managed to score just 30 points in that unprecedented run of six straight grand final qualifier losses – and never more than 10 points in one match.P

In another unwanted record, Cronulla are contesting their 16th finals series since last making the title match.P

South Sydney’s 10 unsuccessful finals campaigns between their 1971 premiership triumph and return to the 2014 grand final is not a patch on Cronulla’s run of outs in playoffs.P

But perhaps the Rabbitohs’ 43-year wait between drinks is an omen for the Sharks to break their own 43-year grand final drought.P

Legendary coach Jack Gibson famously said that waiting for Cronulla to win a premiership was akin to leaving the porch light on for missing Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.P

In a spooky omen for the Sharks faithful grasping for hope, Holt was born in 1908 – the birth year of premiership rugby league in Australia – and is recorded as dying in 1967, the year Cronulla entered the competition.P

Cronulla’s preliminary finals curse has haunted some of the Sharks’ greatest-ever players, with club Immortals Andrew Ettingshausen and Gavin Miller, Test stars Mark McGaw, Mat Rogers and current skipper Paul Gallen never having experienced the thrill of grand final week.P

Officially acknowledged as one of Cronulla’s 10 club legends, David Peachey suffered the torment of four preliminary finals defeats, including three in four seasons.P

Gallen is the lone survivor of the Sharks’ most recent preliminary final loss to Melbourne in 2008.P

But there is hope.P

Shane Flanagan’s class of 2016 at least features five players – Ben Barba, James Maloney, Luke Lewis, Chris Heighington and Michael Ennis – who have won preliminary finals and, whisper it softly, even grand finals with other clubs.P

Don’t turn that porch light off just yet.P




2008: lost 28-0 to MelbourneP

2002: lost 16-10 to WarriorsP

2001: lost 18-10 to NewcastleP

1999: lost 24-8 to St George IllawarraP

1996: lost 24-0 to ManlyP

1988: lost 9-2 to BalmainP

1973: BEAT Newtown 20-11P


*In 1978, the Sharks qualified straight for the grand final and didn’t contest a preliminary final.

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