MALONEY IS LEWIS’ MAN OF THE MATCH

Clive Churchill win­ner says pivot’s stir­ring speech lifted them off the can­vas

Rugby League Week - - News - BY GREG PRICHARD

CLIVE CHURCHILL MEDAL­LIST Luke Lewis has re­vealed it was Cronulla’s grand fi­nal ex­pert, James Maloney, who pro­vided the im­pe­tus for the Sharks to fight back and win their maiden ti­tle. Lewis says Maloney, who was play­ing his third grand fi­nal in six years, seized a nowor-never mo­ment and gave a stir­ring in-goal speech af­ter Will Cham­bers had scored a try to put Mel­bourne ahead for the first time.

“When they scored I thought, ‘This can’t be hap­pen­ing’,” says Lewis [be­low]. “I thought we’d been play­ing re­ally well, but Will Cham­bers is a class player and he’s very good at get­ting to the line and we sort of put our heads down for about 30 sec­onds af­ter that.

“But then Jimmy said, ‘Boys, we knew it wasn’t all go­ing to go our way tonight, but how we re­spond is all that mat­ters now, we can get back into this game and we’ve got 15 min­utes to do that, so let’s go’. And then we re­sponded.

“Jimmy spoke up and ev­ery­one lis­tened to him. We needed some­one to say some­thing like that so we could re­fo­cus. He’s a great leader, Jimmy – he’s been around in big games and he re­ally stood up for us in this game.

“I think it was a big mo­ment of the game when he said that. If no-one says any­thing you end up go­ing back to half­way in a bit of a daze. You can go quiet and go into your shell and the next thing you know they’ve put an­other two tries on you.

“James Maloney [ in­set] stepped up and said what needed to be said and ev­ery­one took it on board and got on with the job.

“We had to de­fend well if we were go­ing to get back into it and we did that. Our next set off the kick-off was out­stand­ing and we got the ball back and ended up scor­ing not long af­ter through An­drew Fi­fita. That put us back in front and then we de­fended un­til the end and here we are.”

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