By GREG WHITE
Coffs Harbour 26
THE oldest saying in football is 'the score isn't a true reflection.'
So true, if you're talking about Coffs Harbour's 26-22 win over Macksville on Saturday night, a game that seemed like they'd won by 30 or better.
For most of the night, the triple premiers were off stargazing, allowing their visiting opponents to set up a lead even the great Houdinis of Group 2 couldn't overcome.
"Our best win for the season," Comets coach Scott Mieni said, "and didn't Macksville get a surprise how much we had left in the tank at the end."
Coffs overcame the early loss of playmakers Bert Gray and Cameron Lewis and stood up to some fiery Eagle defence that had Mieni scowling in disgust.
"I'd like to say something about that but perhaps I'd better not for fear I get myself into strife," Mieni said.
For too long, Macksville seemed to have their minds on other things.
Perhaps it was the reunion for the 1995 premiership winners taking place or the next day's Bowraville Cup.
Certainly, it was anything but winning a football game, at least till the last, desperate minutes.
"I thought our defence was pretty good most of the time," Macksville captain-coach Paul Davis claimed.
"But with four changes to the team and some calls not going our way, we ended up being very flat in attack, just not enough urgency."
With 13 minutes remaining, the Comets were 20 point leaders and the proverbial was about to hit the Eagle fan.
As expected, the great Macksville revival thundered from the clouds, courtesy of the two veteran 35 years young cousins, Paul Davis and Richard Dixon.
With Dixon hitting the line like a runaway train the space opened up for Davis to pop his magical passes for tries, two into the waiting fingers of Garry Jarrett and one for Jason Hughes.
Usually, at times like this, all resistance to Macksville fades away.
But not this time.
"Did you see how my boys lifted?" a proud coach Mieni asked.
Lift they did, not only to survive the temporary onslaught, but enough to turn the blowtorch back onto Macksville.
At the final siren, the Comets were powering back over the top of the home team.
More disappointed than upset at the loss, Paul Davis said a lot more concentration would be required in the run to the semis.
"It's possible to win from anywhere in the top five these days," Davis commented, "but for your own peace of mind it's better not to finish that far back."
COFFS HARBOUR 26 (Will Morgan 2, Matt Hendy, Paul Spence, Todd Gill tries; Shaun Hart 2, Anthony Donovan goals) d MACKSVILLE 22 (Garry Jarrett 2, Cameron Blair, Jason Hughes tries; Cameron Blair 2, Garry Jarrett goals)
Penalties: Coffs Harbour 8-5
Errors: Macksville 11, Coffs Harbour 6
Best players: Will Morgan, Brendan Pellagrino, Shaun Hart (Coffs Harbour); Garry Jarrett, Paul Davis, Richard Dixon (Macksville).
Reserve grade: Coffs Harbour d Macksville 30-0 (match shortened due to injury).
Under 18: Coffs Harbour d Macksville 24-18