Mieni counts the positives
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
THE conclusion of yesterday's Group 2 match at Advocate Park was so late that a full moon was rising over the Pacific when the final bell went.
Maybe, just maybe, it signalled a rising of another kind from the Comets.
Through the summer, talk was rife of a mass player walkout from the club.
The impending doom was supposed to be so dire that the first grade team were barely going to be competitive, and the club would fail to field a reserve grade team.
Trouble is, Coffs Harbour coach Scott Mieni pays very little attention to rumour and innuendo.
When you are dealing with the appointed coach for NSW Country, as Mieni is, you can bet the man is no fool.
You can also bet that the man is certainly capable of moulding any piece of football clay thrown his way into a competitive outfit.
Yesterday, for the first time in just under five years, the Comets finally got the better of Macksville.
Inspired by the reunion of the last Coffs Harbour side to take a title, the Comets ran out against the reigning premiers with possibly their most inexperienced line-up in many a long year.
But rather than the match simply being a case of boys sent out on a man's errand, the likes of Keedan Williams, Matt Secomb, Thomas Vanden Boom, Matt Hendy and Joel Thompson stood up to the hardest test Group 2 has to offer.
But if Mieni doesn't care of talk from outside the club, he couldn't be bothered with talk from inside it either.
When asked if yesterday's 38-24 victory sent out a message to the Comets' rivals, Mieni couldn't have been more blunt.
"Without being rude, I don't really care," he said.
"I'm just happy seeing the positives that we've created now."
While Coffs Harbour's 1985 premiership team celebrated long into the night and retold tall tales of glory days past, Mieni, as always, stayed in the moment.
"I'm just enjoying coaching some blokes who want to play football under me," he said.
"You can only do and be successful with what you've got, and I'm happy with what I've got"
One thing Mieni must have been happy that he got yesterday was a 10-3 penalty count.
Many searching dummy-half runs from centre Cameron Lewis constantly found the Macksville defence off-side.
And extra sets were also handed to the Comets thanks to Neville Donovan having a rare off day.
Four times Donovan kicked out on the full, including once from a kick-off.
Considering how little ball Macksville had in the first half, it was amazing the Sea Eagles went to the sheds at half time trailing by only two points.
But in the end, the defensive workload Macksville had to endure just became too heavy.
Sea Eagles captain-coach Paul Davis was able to sum up his enigmatic team's day in a couple of succinct sentences.
"We just gave away too many penalties, and too much ball," he said.
"We just couldn't keep going tackle, tackle, tackle."
"In the end I think there were more missed tackles than tackles."
Having got away with a field goal victory in the first match, and a come-from-behind draw last week, Macksville's luck finally ran out yesterday.
The team appeared flat after several key players backed up from Saturday's representative game.
Backing up for a second game didn't stop David Pickvance from scoring a double, while new recruit Chris Morecombe grabbed a hat-trick, despite spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
"We're probably playing a bit individually at the moment," Davis said.
"And we need to tighten up around the ruck a bit."
It was around the ruck that the Comets dominated the game.
If it wasn't Lewis with a dummy half run, then it was Shaun Hart or Bert Gray creating yards with second phase play.
The match-sealing try came from a dummy-half run through lazy defence.
Veteran Brenden Pellegrino has been on the end of more losses against Macksville than there have been drug arrests in Bali.
It was only fitting that a veteran's try sealed the fate of the match.
Russell Boyns' second half double was simply icing on the cake.
COFFS HARBOUR 38 (Russell Boyns 2, Brenden Pellegrino, Shaun Hart, Bert Gray, Matt Secomb, Henry Dunn tries; Hart 5 goals) def MACKSVILLE 24 (Chris Morecombe 3, David Pickvance 2 tries; Cameron Blair 2 goals).
Penalties: Coffs 10-3
Scrums: Macksville 8-6
Reserves: Coffs 22 Macksville 20
Under 18s: Coffs 32 Macksville 10