DEVON Sharks turned the formbook upside down to beat Cornish Rebels 38-24 in the South West Rugby League Grand Final at Launceston and retain the title they won last year.
The Rebels had already won the South West Conference undefeated, beating Sharks twice along the way.
Sharks learned lessons from their previous encounters and with a display of big hits, thrilling runs and fine defence turned some rugby league at its finest.
Rebels gave away a penalty from the kick-off, which Sharks ran back at them for Joe Briggs to score under the posts, leaving Ashley Ansermoz a simple kick at goal.
Rebels replied with a try that ex-Shark Johnny Platt was unable to convert.
Conor Roberts then scored his first Sharks try when he crashed over 10 metres in from the touchline. Ansermoz kicked a superb conversion for a 12-4 lead.
Things got better for Sharks when Ansermoz bombed the Rebels defence into spilling the ball behind the line. Josh Green pounced to score the try.
Back came the Cornishmen with a try on the right. Platt converted for 16-10 at half time.
Sharks pressed from the second-half restart and after Roberts went close Briggs went all the way.
Sharks' great start to the second half continued when a move Rebels made an error near their line. From the restart Ansermoz spotted a gap in the defence to score from close range.
Rebels hit back with two unconverted tries before Sharks' James Hill, brother of leading try scorer Oliver Hill, scored near the posts on his return from injury. Ansermoz made it 32-18 with the kick.
The game was almost won when another fine attacking move by Sharks saw Matt Hodgson thread a grubber kick into the Rebels defence, who had no option but to put the ball out of play.
From the restart Jacob Stirling found his way through to score from close range. Ansermoz converted.
With just a few minutes left Cornish Rebels scored a converted try but by then the result was not in doubt.