Cronulla Sharks

NRL grand final preview: Cronulla Sharks to put Melbourne Storm's elite defence to the test

People love to say defence wins championships, despite the fact that a superior attack can completely dismantle it. Just ask the 2015 Broncos.

And that is what the Sharks will look to do against the Storm when they face off in the decider at Sydney's Olympic stadium on Sunday.

But before we try to decipher what will happen on Sunday, we have to look back at what went down between these two in 2016.

What happened this year?

Wins were split as these teams faced off in round four and round 26 of 2016.

Sharks happy to be the hunted

Sitting atop the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder for the first time since Round 2, 2000, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said while the team was aware of their table-topping status they hadn't made a great deal about it. 

An inconsistent Bulldogs outfit threatens Cronulla's eight-game winning streak, and Flanagan expects Des Hasler's squad to be on song this week.

Flanagan also confirmed New South Wales Origin trio James Maloney, Andrew Fifita and skipper Paul Gallen would all be fit to face the Bulldogs.

Graham reflects on rollercoaster two years

A methodical recruitment drive over the past few years has seen the likes of seasoned campaigners James Maloney, Luke Lewis and Michael Ennis join the club to link up with some of the game's brightest talent to form one of the best-rounded squads in the NRL.

The result? Eight straight wins to have locals thinking twice about turning the porchlight on for Harold Holt. 

Their success in 2016 is incredible when you consider where the club was positioned two years ago. 

Cronulla too good for Manly in NYC

An anomaly in the draw – caused by a postponed game in Round 3 – meant this was the second time in the space of 14 days that these sides met, with the Sharks able to reverse the 22-16 defeat they suffered at Brookvale Oval a fortnight ago.  

The Sea Eagles started both halves with plenty of vigour but couldn't maintain the pressure as they remain last on the ladder through 11 rounds.