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Winged Bird defies pain barrier

GF: Storm v Sharks (Highlights)

Highlights of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final between the Storm & Sharks

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Jack Bird (Cronulla)
Cronulla centre Jack Bird looked certain to come off after copping heavy friendly fire from skipper Paul Gallen in the 19th minute against Melbourne on Sunday. After Gallen landed on his arm during a tackle, Bird cried out in pain and was immediately attended to by a trainer. It looked certain that his night was over, but instead he fought through the pain and played the full 80 minutes and was still among Cronulla's best, racking up 162 metres from 16 carries to go with 15 tackles. A massive effort considering Melbourne targeted him at every opportunity once they saw he was carrying an injury.

Andrew Fifita (Cronulla)
It is beyond us how Andrew Fifita was overlooked for the Clive Churchill medal on Sunday night. Not only did Fifita run for 201 metres, make 11 tackle busts and make 35 tackles, he also scored the match-winning try when he carried five Storm defenders over the line. It was the stuff of rugby league folk lore. He was the difference between the two teams on the night, and while Luke Lewis had a solid game, it is beyond us how he managed to be awarded the medal for best player on the night, when the winner should have been obvious.

Victor Radley (Roosters U20s)
When Roosters hooker Grant Garvey succumbed to a shoulder injury, the Chooks looked no chance of beating the minor premiership winning Panthers as they headed into the sheds trailing 28-6. Backrower Victor Radley was given the responsibility of taking over as rake in the second half, and his superb performance suggests it won't be long before we see him given a shot in the first grade. The 18-year-old was just about best on the ground after making the switch, finishing with 38 tackles, 85 metres and two line breaks as he helped the Chooks complete a second-half shut-out of the Panthers and guided his side to a massive comeback win.

Drew Hutchison (Illawarra Cutters)
Drew Hutchison declared himself ready for the NRL after pulling the strings inĀ Illawarra's 52-12 demolition of Burleigh in the NRL Interstate Championship at ANZ Stadium on Sunday. He starred in the Cutters' nine tries-to-two rout, staking a claim for the vacant St George Illawarra No.7 jumper for the 2017 NRL season. His floating cut-out pass to put Taane Milne in space late in the first half was a classy touch and he constantly challenged the Burleigh defence either with his own strong running game or by turning his quick men back on the inside to expose tired defenders.

Christian Welch (Storm)
The Storm interchange second-rower spent just 12 minutes on the pitch, the least of any Melbourne player, yet in that time he managed to cost his side the victory. Welch conceded a needless penalty while defending with Cronulla taking their fifth tackle. The Sharks scored from the resulting set with a fantastic try to Andrew Fifita to win the game.

Will Chambers (Storm)
It's a tough call considering that Will Chambers was one of Melbourne's best players in the loss (finishing the game with a try, 176 metres and two line breaks), but he did have a chance to win the game late and he failed to make the winning play. It was a mercurial piece of work that few would have been able to pull off at the death when he kicked the ball and managed to regather just inside the touch line, but he failed to spot an open Cooper Cronk to his left and instead took the tackle, missing what would have been a match-winning play.

Who were your heroes and goats from the grand final? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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