ALBION Park may not figure past the last regular competition round this season, but the Eagles will still have something to celebrate after they ended Warilla-Lake South's Group 7 Rugby League 2014 unbeaten run with a hard-fought 24-22 win at Cec Glenholmes Oval.
Until the last 10 minutes it looked likely to be a game both sides would want to forget, as the two long-time rivals turned in some less-than-stellar football.
That changed in the blink of an eye when the Eagles, through Danny Maxwell and the evergreen Dean Gray, ran in late back-to-back tries to run down the Gorillas.
The home side opened the scoring when five-eighth Jesse Dee plucked Luke Watts' bomb from the air and came down next to the posts. Nick Lazarevski's conversion put the home side up 6-0.
It wasn't a lead that was destined to last long though, as Albion Park soon found themselves at the Warilla line.
Veteran back-rower Sean Jenkins made the initial bust to put his side on the attack, before an Aaron Gorrell long ball put centre Simon Harris over on the left hand side. Gorrell's conversion levelled the scores.
A penalty gave the visitors an extra chance at the Gorillas' line and they made the most of the rare opportunity. Fill-in five-eighth Chris Rowles produced a deft grubber for Jenkins to pounce. Gorrell converted for a 12-6 Albion Park lead.
A nice exchange of passes from Warilla put Blake Colgan over on the left fringe to cut the lead to two before Joel Skeates proved too big near the line, powering his way over for his side to lead 14-12 at the break.
The Gorillas dominated possession to start the second half and Skeates put his side further ahead when he made Albion Park pay for not fielding the ball on the full, diving on the loose ball to push the lead out to 18-12.
The game stayed that way until Dee, forced into hooker due to an injury to starting rake Dane Corran, took advantage of some sloppy marker play by the Eagles and raced away to score under the posts.
Despite the breeze, most would have considered the shot at goal a done deal, but replacement goal-kicker Ben Cotter sprayed the shot wide, something that would come back to haunt his side. The Eagles then threw caution to the wind as they strung passes together down the right edge, Maxwell racing away and beating the fullback to score. Gorrell's third conversion cut the lead to four.
With an inkling that they could spring an upset, Albion Park muscled their way upfield in the ensuing set, but a failed chip and chase by Gorrell looked to have put any chance to bed.
However, the Gorillas were their own worst enemy and coughed the ball up 10 metres from their line.
Sensing it was their last chance the Eagles threw everything they had at the home side.
It looked like Jenkins would grab the match-winner until some swarming defence held the back-rower up, but the next ruck it was Gray who burrowed over for a well-deserved try to level the scores. Gorrell managed to get the ball to stay on the tee and slotted the winning two points.
In other weekend games, Jamberoo Superoos ended a four-game losing sequence with a 26-20 win over Milton-Ulladulla, while Berry Magpies made it five victories in a row via a 28-22 win over Kiama Knights.