THE Shellharbour Sharks have all but ended the finals hopes of Albion Park-Oak Flats after coming back to defeat the Eagles 22-20 at Centenary Field on Sunday.
The determined Eagles opened the scoring in the sixth minute when hooker Brent Wake powered over from dummyhalf.
The classy Jake Brisbane converted for 6-nil.
Three minutes later, following a 40/20 by Brisbane, the hosts had their second when Chad Harrison touched down acrobatically out wide.
Halfback Brisbane failed to convert from out wide and it was 10-nil.
The Eagles charge continued when they scored their third within the opening 19 minutes, with Brisbane again being heavily involved.
#Shellharbour#Sharks coach Abed Atallah discusses his side fighting back from an eight-point deficit at half-time to defeat #AlbionPark#OakFlats 22-20 at Centenary Field. #GroupSeven#group7#Eagles#rugbyleague@CountryRL@SCRegister@mercury_sports@TheBarrowpic.twitter.com/Glx3UF9iJd— Courtney Rhys Ward (@CortRhysWard) June 30, 2019
The young half grubbered through the line before the ball was pounced on by Jarrod King.
Brisbane again failed to convert and the lead was 14.
The reigning premiers would eventually hit back, after five straight sets on the Eagles' line, when Matt Carroll hit Donte Efaraimo with a cutout pass - with the latter strolling over untouched.
Carroll converted and the score was 14-6 after 28.
With the final five minutes of the half, Brisbane and Carroll traded penalty goals, as the Eagles led 16-8 at the break.
After a soft turnover by Josh Sainsbury, the Sharks were handed strong field position, which winger Jayme McElhone made the most of to score the visitors' second.
Carroll failed to convert and it was 16-12 after 46 minutes.
#AlbionPark#OakFlats#Eagles coach Gary Breakspear chats about his side’s 22-20 #GroupSeven loss to the #Shellharbour#Sharks - severely denting their finals chances this season. #Group7#rugbyleague#CentenaryField@CountryRL@SCRegister@mercury_sports@TheBarrowpic.twitter.com/QC207vkeEk— Courtney Rhys Ward (@CortRhysWard) June 30, 2019
A piece of in and out magic down the left edge by Sam Clune, in the 60th minute, levelled the scores at 16-all, before Carroll added the extras, to give the Sharks their first lead of the match (18-16).
The visitors well and truly had their tails up now, as another sloppy penalty by the Eagles saw Deejay Harris score a couple of plays later in the left corner.
Carroll failed to convert and it was 22-16.
But the Eagles didn't go down wandering as Blake Jones showed more determination for the ball, to gather a Brisbane kick despite pressure from Harris and Clune.
But Brisbane couldn't level the scores with his conversion, as the Sharks led 22-20 with five to play.
Despite the Eagles best efforts, that's as close as the hosts got, as the Sharks held on for a crucial two-point win.
In the win, Clune, Efaraimo, Kiran Tranter and Jack Kavanagh starred while Brisbane, Josh Sainsbury, Luke Patten and Blake Jones did all they could for the Eagles.