ONE of the longest hoodoos in first grade Group Seven ended on Sunday as the Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles defeated the Shellharbour Sharks 26-20.
Not since 2007 had the Eagles tasted victory against the Ron Costello Oval-based club but that all changed in round three.
At Centenary Field, the hosts flew out of the blocks, scoring within the first seven minutes of play.
A short-side play saw Brent Wake create space for former Shark Donte Efaraimo, who found a gap and beat three defenders on the way to the line.
Paul Roberts converted from right in front and it was 6-nil.
The hosts' lead was double the very next set when Dallas Harrison won the race to a Sam Clune down-field kick - beating Sharks' Scott Hogan to the footy - before diving over.
Roberts failed to convert and it was 10-nil after nine minutes.
Once the dust had finally settled, the Sharks worked their way back into the game and opened their accounts.
In the 21st minute, a sharp Matt Carroll pass put Declan Morrissy into a hole close to the line to score.
Skipper Carroll failed to convert making it 10-4.
Just before the break, the Eagles had their third when Clune's sleight of hand helped Buddy Braddick barge over - making it 14-4 at half-time.
Three minutes after the resumption, Carroll helped the visitors reduce the margin to four by dummying and diving over from close range, before converting his own four-pointer.
In the 49th minute, the Sharks drew level when Carroll's pass put forward Zac Kershaw over.
The halfback's kick gave the Sharks their first lead (16-14) with just over 30 minutes to play.
The match was turned on its head in the 60th minute when both Roberts and Morrissy were sent off by referee Ryan Micallef for fighting - forcing both team's to finish the game with 12 players.
The hosts didn't drop their heads though and following Braddick being held up over the line by a courageous Hogan try-saving tackle, the Eagles had their fourth.
A short-side play by Clune and Braddick allowed winger Cooper Tunbridge, on debut, to dive over untouched.
Clune failed to convert but the Eagles still led 18-16 with 23 to play.
Four minutes later, the Eagles attacked the same edge, seeing Izak Parkes' bullet a pass out to Braddick for his second of the afternoon - as the hosts led by six.
The Sharks didn't die wondering though, as Ryan James appeared set to cross himself before desperate goal-line defence prevented him from scoring.
But the powerful centre offloaded to debutant Ethan Simonovski to score in the left corner.
Carroll failed to add the extras and the Eagles held onto a 22-20 lead with 10 to play.
The match was sealed for the hosts in the 76th minute when Jarrod King scored - following Rodney Coates and Wake both being held up over the line.
Clune couldn't add the extras, as the Eagles won 26-20.
Next up for the victors is a trip to Rugby Park to face the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets, while the winless Sharks host the Knights on Saturday.
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