Macksville peak at right time
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
THEY say that Bart Cummings trains his Melbourne Cup horses to the minute. Paul Davis now has a reputation for preparing a football team that peaks at the right time every year. And he's getting better at it too if yesterday's 60-22 demolition of Orara Valley is any indication. The Sea Eagles hit the ground running and after Davis deftly offloaded to halfback Nev Donovan for the opening try of the match it was a matter of one-way traffic for the four-time premiers. "It doesn't matter what happens during the year, it's just a matter of keeping your players on deck come semi-final time, especially grand final day," Davis said of his secret that gets Macksville over the line each year. "If they come switched on every week, they perform and the boys were switched on over the last couple of weeks." Things were looking ominous after only 20 minutes when Davis' men led 16-6 and the fat lady was already starting to warm up her vocal chords. Three tries in the eight minutes before the half-time siren and suddenly that same fat lady saw a scoreline of 34-10 and she started belting out an entire aria. Most supporters were blown away by the 11 try effort that Macksville produced but that's not giving enough credit to the defensive effort. Despite the blown out scoreline, Orara continued to try different things that could get them back in the ball game but a lot of it was in vain. Time and time again, any danger that the Axemen looked like creating was quickly snuffed out by the hungry Sea Eagle defence as they took valuable time and space away from the shining lights that Orara Valley possess. "I emphasised that all week that Brett Davis, Brad Hart, Ben McCarthy and Matt Donovan have to be on the deck as much as they can," the coach said. "And in attack we had to make them tackle as much as they could to take the sting out of their attack all day." All the Macksville players made a contribution yesterday but special accolades must be given to Reg Donovan who was superb in the second row. Two massive line breaks in the first half set up tries for Chris Morecombe and Nev Donovan as well as scoring one himself in the northern highway corner. Another line break early in the second half set up Jason Daley for an unassailable 50-10 lead and Donovan had earnt himself man of the match honours. "I have to single Reg Donovan out as he was a big player for us today," the captain-coach said in rare individual praise. "He only played five games all year so imagine if he played more." Maybe Donovan is the type of player better suited to a light preparation. If you're studying the form guide this spring and you see something trained by P.Davis, the good oil is to get on with every last cent. Macksville put their faith in him and look at the rewards they're reaping. MACKSVILLE SEA EAGLES 60 (Nev Donovan 2, Jason Daley 2, David Pickvance 2, Reg Donovan, Chris Morecombe, Max McGovern, Dwayne Button, Wes Kelly tries; Cameron Blair 8 goals) d ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 22 (Brant O'Dea 2, Matt Donovan, Ben McCarthy, Scott Lacey tries; Brett Davis goal). Scrums: 7-all. Penalties: Orara Valley 3-2. Errors: Orara Valley 10, Macksville 8. Best Players: Macksville - Reg Donovan, Max McGovern, David Pickvance. Orara Valley - Tristan Hamilton-Giggins, Brant O'Dea, Matt Donovan.