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Sharks spoil Farah's fairytale finish to snatch finals spot from Tigers

Goodbye Robbie, goodbye Tigers.

Robbie Farah's NRL career is over and the Wests Tigers' eight-year finals drought will continue for at least another 12 months, as Paul Gallen - who kicked the first field goal of his career -  moved on to the finals to fight another day.

Inspired by rookie winger Ronaldo Mulitalo, Cronulla gate-crashed the Tigers' celebrations at their beloved Leichhardt Oval on Sunday to book their passage into the finals series with a 25-8 victory in front of a capacity crowd of 19,491.

For the Sharks, Manly awaits.

For the Tigers, another off-season of soul searching looms.

A week ago Michael Maguire said he would do his best to ensure the lead-up to the must-win game didn't become a circus.

That plan failed miserably. The whole week was about one man, and just as it looked like the circus rolled into town without its star attraction, the crowd got what they wanted.

An injury to Corey Thompson in the warm-up saw Farah sprint up the tunnel to trade his track pants and polo for jersey No.21.

The Tigers' preparations were thrown into a frenzy, with an underdone Farah called into action in a match he had no right to play in given he'd broken his leg just four weeks earlier.

But there would be no fairytale farewell from Leichhardt.

There were plenty of sub plots to the Farah show, with Aaron Woods returning home to Leichhardt for the first time in opposition colours and Josh Reynolds playing in his 150th NRL game.

But nothing was more important than the top eight spot on the line.

The Tigers began with all the momentum, gifted an early lead with a penalty goal right in front of the posts after just six minutes.

Despite having all the ascendancy and momentum to start with, the Tigers were first to concede a try when Shaun Johnson combined with Briton Nikora to hush the vocal Leichhardt crowd.

Another Tigers penalty saw them square the ledger, and it looked as though both teams would head into the sheds with the scores locked up at 4-4.

However a controversial penalty on the stroke of half time, with David Nofoaluma penalised for playing the ball before he was deemed held, pushed the Sharks out to a two point lead.

The news didn't get any better to start the second half, with Esan Marsters fumbling a Johnson grubber to allow Josh Morris to dive on the loose ball and take the Sharks out to a 12-4 lead.

The Leichhardt crowd rises for Farah

There was another contentious call by the officials soon after, with Luke Brooks penalised for placing Nikora into a dangerous position despite replays suggesting the Sharks backrower may have contributed largely to the outcome.

It was compounded by back-to-back tries for the Sharks, who stretched out to an almost unassailable 24-4 lead with 30 minutes remaining.

By the time Farah found himself on the field with 25 minutes remaining, the game was all but gone.

The Tigers gave the hopeful crowd something to dream about when Luke Garner hit a hole off Brooks and stepped past Dugan to score.

However it was to no avail, with the Tigers struggling to find a way through a disciplined Cronulla defence.

The Sharks will now take on the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval next Saturday night. In other finals matches, the Roosters will take on South Sydney on Friday night, minor premiers Melbourne host the Raiders on Saturday, while the Eels play at home to the Broncos on Sunday.

Gallen and Leichhardt faithful honour Farah

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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