Thriving under pressure
By GREG WHITE
HEARD the latest Macksville joke doing the rounds?
As they beat Orara with twelve men and despatched Sawtell with ten, let's strike a compromise.
Let them name eleven players for the Grand Final to make it an even contest.
A bit far fetched but a heck of a compliment to the Mighty's to be considered a two man better side than everybody else.
The Sea Eagles model of 2005 is a different beast to the one that's captured three straight titles.
Gone are the great escapers of the past, replaced by a team that's dogged and rugged.
Maybe a little too rugged for some people's taste, but name me a top side that hasn't been known to push the envelope and take their aggression up to the starting line?
Macksville thrive under pressure, and dare I say it, often go out of their way to attract it.
Losing Gary Jarrett for the decider will be less a problem than having a week off.
There's an old saying.
"Nothing can focus the mind like the prospect of hanging."
The Mighty's won't like hanging around for a fortnight for something to happen when constant competition and conflict makes them thrive.
Two options present themselves to cover the loss of Gonzo.
Paul may chose to bring Reg Donovan, on the verge of his seventh Grand Final appearance, off the bench and straight into the pivot's role.
Or, he may put R.J. into the second row, move Chris Piper into the centres and slot Dave Pickvance into the No.6 jumper.
Maybe he has another surprise in his box of tricks.
No one will know till the side runs out, so whatever squad you see named in the meantime, take it with a grain of salt.
Who their opponents will be becomes known this Sunday.
Orara were a fingernail off winning last weekend.
Two things killed them.
Their traditional ten minute sleep following the resumption and their failure to 'turtle' the ball carriers.
Macksville players grow a third arm in possesion.
You get them around the legs and think you have hold of both arms, when suddenly, another arm grows out of their bodies to promote the ball.
They must be grounded on their backs and smothered so the pass doesn't fly.
Woopi and the Axemen will both be worthy rivals, whichever gets through, and will be lifted to great heights by the mere fact they are playing the Eagles.
Despite all the controversy swirling about them, there's an undeniable generosity of spirit in Macksville people that's amplified by their champion team.
In all their big matches, win (mostly), lose or draw, the team opposing them has become just as famous.
A lot of people know who won the main event of 2003, but everyone knows the gaame was played in dramatic circumstances on the hallowed cow paddock at Coramba.
Last year, Sawtell and Port Macquarie played their way into football immortality by way of defeat.
Should Paul Davis be first to stand on that podium on September 11, I can see him reaching down to lift the beaten side onto the stage to share in the glory.
If he's in charge of the losing side, I hope he's offered the same honour.
Macksville may be the best club side I've seen in country football, but it doesn't make them certainties.
Hey, even Phar Lap lost a few races.
But from what Iv'e seen lately, it's going to take an enormously gifted side to top them.