Albion Park Eagles soar in battle of the cellar dwellers

ALBION Park-Oak Flats have fought their way out of the Group 7 Rugby League cellar.

The Eagles defeated Port Kembla 36-28 at Noel Mulligan Oval on Saturday. 

The victory means the previously last-placed Park overtake the Blacks on the first grade ladder. 

The visitors also overcame an 18-6 first half deficit during an entertaining fixture between two outfits unlikely to be holding any silverware aloft at season’s end. 

Park lock Chris Rowles opened the scoring less than 10 minutes in, when Port spilled a Matt Carroll bomb. 

The four-pointer wasn’t without controversy, a touch judge appearing to call a forward pass in the lead-up but the whistle wasn’t blown.  

A glut of possession for the home side followed, who capitalised when a James Weir grubber-kick resulted in a fortuitous ricochet for prop Corey Honan to level the scores. 

A slice of good fortune, certainly, but one they took further advantage of, Mark Simon’s banana kick finding pivot Josh Maude. 

When skilful play from Matthew Michalowski put Sifa Hala over in the corner, Josh Windisch’s conversion afforded an 18-6 buffer. 

The Blacks would rue a momentum-shifting error from the first tackle of the next set though. 

The Eagles’ simple, yet crisp spreading of the ball wide led to a Josh Sainsbury try. 

The visitors immediately struck again, Kyle Zimmerman backing up a line break to cut the deficit to two points as the teams headed to the sheds. 

Field position again favoured Port early, uncharacteristic Eagles errors gifting key attacking chances. 

However, the Park found the try-line instead, regaining the lead when back-rower Kurt Holloway went through sub-par defence.

Ill-discipline cruelled the Blacks’ chances, penalties often providing the Park easy passage up-field.

After the Eagles acquired possession via a one-on-one strip, veteran hooker Dean Gray nabbed a simple try from dummy half to further extend the lead. 

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Albion Park-Oak Flats veteran Dean Gray scored a double in his side’s win over Port Kembla on Saturday. Photo: DAVID HALL

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Albion Park-Oak Flats veteran Dean Gray scored a double in his side’s win over Port Kembla on Saturday. Photo: DAVID HALL

It appeared the contest was almost out of Port’s reach, but on the hour mark their inspirational leader Simon took on the defensive line, got into space and found Windisch in support, who touched down under the posts. 

Their joy was short-lived when following another Blacks’ infraction, Holloway got across the stripe for his second. 

Dean Gray burrowed over for his double and 36-24 with less than ten minutes on the clock. 

A Windisch try in the dying seconds gave the home fans something to cheer about, but the result was already confirmed. 

Ultimately, the Park had a little too much class and experience, but the Blacks refused to concede defeat throughout. 

The Eagles’ only previous win of 2014 was against Port Kembla; who were missing a few key forwards for this game. 

Dean Gray, Holloway, Carroll and Tyrone Sibraa were the standouts for the Park, while Simon, Maude, Karl Stowers and Kaine Edwards worked hard for Port.