Sharks’ porch light goes off, for now

Cronulla supporters can turn the porch light off.

Harold Holt is not coming home. And the Sharks will not be bringing the 2015 NRL Premiership back to the Shire this year.

It has been an agonising wait for fans of the Sharks, who entered the New South Wales Rugby League back in 1967 and have not won a premiership since then.

That pain turned to agony in 2014, when the club was ripped apart by ASADA investigations and consequent suspensions, financial hardships and dogged rumours of relocation that refused to go away.

All the Sharks could bring home last year was the dreaded wooden spoon.

It was a different story this year, though, as the club captured the imagination of its supporters.

It allowed them to dare to dream, with only a final round upset against Manly denying the Sharks a top-four finish.

Matched-up against South Sydney in the first week of the finals, Cronulla flexed its muscles to torch the defending premiers 28-12.

The belief grew. Planes were chartered. Long suffering fans paid top dollar to travel to Townsville to watch the Sharks play their next final against the North Queensland Cowboys.

There the fairytale was left shattered.

Hammered 39-0, one player on report and another two in danger of facing suspension, their captain Paul Gallen left the stadium ashen-faced with his injured ankle in a moon boot.

The long-running drought continues.

Coach Shane Flanagan did not mince his words at the sheer disappointment of the result.

“I need some time … it’s not the way it’s supposed to finish,” he said.

“They didn’t deserve that finish, the players.

“They’ve worked really hard all year, worked their butts off to be honest.

“It wasn’t to be tonight, but I don’t think we deserved that.”

Some players won’t get to avenge that loss. Michael Gordon is bound for Parramatta in 2016.

Blake Ayshford will head across the ditch to the Warriors and the future of halfback Jeff Robson is yet to be finalised.

But the core of the side will remain, including young strike weapons Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes who were a revelation in 2015.

Joining the club will be James Maloney from the Sydney Roosters and former Shark Chad Townsend, giving Cronulla more impetus in attack.

So while 2015 will remain a bitter disappointment, it also provides hope for fans that better days lie ahead.

That porch light will burn brightly in 2016.

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