Eagles rein supreme
EAGLES CLASS ON SHOW
Albion Park-Oak Flats are the 2006 South Coast Group Seven premiers after a comprehensive 30-0 win over Shellharbour City in the 2006 first grade grand final at the Nowra Showground.
The premiership win is the Eagles' fifth in nine years.
Albion Park second rower Darrell Brisbane was named Man of the Match, while former Sharks coach Cole Skelly put in a faultless goalkicking display for the Eagles in tough conditions.
In a fitting finale Eagles' veteran Ian Jones also scored a try and was handed the ball for the final conversion of the game.
A heavy shower greeted the teams as they took to a wet showground.
Both sides had good travelling support even if the weather did make it an uncomfortable day for watching football.
Eagles' five-eighth Wade Walsh took his place in the Eagles starting line up, while Sharks captain Ryan Schuster started the game from the bench.
The Eagles suffered a blow in the opening minutes when they lost winger Reece White to a leg injury, with Danny Sartori taking his place.
The Eagles were first to score when an Ian Jones grubber on an early tackle found fullback Ben Brookfield and Skelly's conversion made it 6-0.
The Eagles doubled their lead when a barnstorming run from Darrell Brisbane close to the line attracted four defenders, before the big second rower offloaded to centre Sean Jenkins who did the rest from close range.
Skelly's conversion from the sideline into a biting wind was master class.
Albion Park were taking no chances in the wet conditions often kicking early in sets, but in the first half Shellharbour were their own worst enemy.
The Sharks simply gave away too many penalties in the Eagles half and dropped too much ball in their own.
Consecutives spills from Sharks fullback Matt Coehlo and winger Josh Champion were punished when Brisbane picked a loose ball up and proved unstoppable from 20 metres out to cross in the left corner. Skelly again guided the ball through the posts from the sideline for an 18-0 lead.
Tempers flared on occasions with the heavy conditions lending themselves to some big confrontations.
The Sharks had a chance on the stroke of half time through Ryan Schuster, but a desperate tackle from Brisbane saw the Eagles preserve their 18-0 half-time lead.
Shellharbour's best passage of the game came early in the second half when they earned four repeat sets on the Eagles line, but they couldn't break through.
The majority of the second half saw the Sharks attempting to work their way downfield, but the Eagles were never really threatened.
The Park's big forward pack rolled through the second half, with few errors.
The Gray brothers Dean and Derek along with coach Shane Sainsbury and Steve Butfield all put in solid performances when it mattered.
With 15 to go the game was sealed when Sainsbury set up a diving Jones to cross next to the posts.
The scoring was rounded out when Brookfield completed his double in the dying stages.
Jones conversion gave the 'Eagles Nest' supporters something they wanted.
Shellharbour co-coach Peter Ellis said Albion Park were simply "too good" for his side.
"We've played some good wet weather football this year, but today we made to many errors and gave away too many penalties to compete.
"I'm a bit disappointed for the boys the final score was a bit of touch up, but full credit to Albion Park they have been the best side this year."
A beaming Albion Park coach Shane Sainsbury, who admitted to very little sleep before the game, said he knew they had the game following the big defensive effort early in the second half.
"At half-time all I could say was to just keep going the way we are.
"They came out and had a few sets on our line, but our defence was great and our talk was good and I knew we had them."
The Park's grand final performance reflected the way they had dominated the competition this year, but as Sainsbury knew well, a commanding home and away season doesn't always translate to grand final success.
"Nothing makes up for last year, but this was a new season," Sainsbury said.
"We're such good mates here and I'm very proud of the way we played all year."
Brisbane was an absolute standout for the winners, while Steve Butfield, Cole Skelly and Derek Gray were also in great form, while Phil Lopez, Jamie Manukonga and Nathan Cooper tried hard all day for the Sharks.
OUTLAWS WIN AGAIN
Reigning Regan Cup premiers Albion Park Outlaws made it back-to-back premierships when they outstayed a determined Shellharbour City Sharks side.
The Sharks established a 6-0 lead midway though the first half via a try to their inspirational five-eighth Damien Ingram, only to see his opposite number Tony Muffalo reply almost immediately and David Bassett's conversion tied the game up at 6-6.
The heavy conditions continued after halftime and it was a matter of which team was able to hold the most ball and build the most pressure that would win the game and with ten minutes remaining a great pass from prop Mark McTiernan, standing at five-eighth, to send centre Chris Daniels over for the match-winner, with Bassett's second conversion wrapping up a hard-fought win.
In two sides full of good performers Outlaws second-rower Steve Rawson took out Man of the Match, while McTiernan, Jason Henry and Muffalo were also strong, while Ingram, Geoff Shapherd and Robert Monkley tried all day for the Sharks.
Three in a row for Sharks
Shellharbour City Sharks won their third successive Reserve Grade premiership when they scored a thrilling 4-3 win over Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles.
In a match full drama, the Eagles looked set to upset the minor premiers after five-eighth Adam Bezzina landed a 60th minute field-goal to give his side a slender win, but with second left on the clock referee Nick McInerney awarded the Sharks a penalty 40 metres out while the Eagles were in possession and after earlier missing a similar penalty when he touch judges disagreed and Jason Lennard stepped up and calmly potted the goal, much to the delight of his team-mates. The irony was that Lennard only joined the Sharks this season from the Eagles.
Man of the Match Justin Cole, Mitchell Wilmott and Matt Cody had great games for the winners, while Adam Bezzina, Glenn Roberts and Brett Stewartson were best for the Eagles.
Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs made it back-to-back Under 18 premierships when they scored a convincing 20-6 win over Shellharbour City Sharks.
After a tight first half that saw firstly the Bulldogs through second-rower Raphael Brousek and then the Sharks via winger Sam Anderson score to tie the scores at 6-6, the Dogs took control just before halftime then two more tries early in the second session put the game out of reach for the Sharks.
The teams got a bit up-close and friendly midway through the second half with two players earning a spell in the sin-bin after an all-in brawl, but eventually referee Chris Treneman restored control and the Dogs were able to confortably hold off the Sharks to win.
Among some outstanding players for the Bulldogs halfback and captain Ryan Mamo earned Man of the Match, while Tristen Nisbit, lock Luke Dudgeon and replacement forward Adam Tracey had great games, while Matt Carroll, Trent Merrin and Dane Sablowski were best for the Sharks.
Tooheys South Coast Group Seven Rugby League Grand Final results from Nowra Showground.
Albion Park Outlaws 12 (C. Daniels, T. Muffalo tries D. Bassett 2 goals) d Shellharbour City Sharks 6 (D. Ingram try and goal).
Shellharbour City Sharks 4 (J. Lennard 2 goals) d Albion Park Oak Flats Eagles 3 (D. Herman try A. Bezzina field-goal).
Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles 20 (T. Nisbit, J. Robinson, R. Mamo, R. Brousek tries T. Nisbit, R, Mamo goals) d Shellharbour City Sharks 6 (S. Anderson try J. Zwolsman goal).
Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles 30 (B. Brookfield 2, D. Brisbane, S. Jenkins, I. Jones tries C. Skelly 4, I. Jones goals) d Shellharbour City Sharks 0.