Coffs Harbour’s Ben McCarthy tries to crash through.
Coffs Harbour’s Ben McCarthy tries to crash through. TREVOR VEALE

Macksville given wake-up call

OOZING confidence and premiership poise, Coffs Harbour handed Macksville a 48-18 wake-up call at Advocate Park yesterday.

For the sixth straight week the Comets finished as winners, their best trot since the 1990s, leaving coach Warren Gilkinson happy to spruik all the classic ‘footyspeak’ terms he could think of.

“We need to take each game as it comes and concentrate on peak effort,” he said with a knowing smile.

“I don’t want them to think too far ahead or look at anyone but themselves.”

With both outfits slipping and sliding on the greasy grass, it took Coffs 20 minutes to post first points.

Macksville levelled but their discipline went on holidays as the home side clung to possession like men inspired.

After being in the bad books of the referee last week, the Comets kept their cool and were the beneficiary of a steady stream of momentum-building penalties.

“We had to be on our best behaviour as it wouldn’t matter how far we were in front, Macksville is the kind of side who can swing around and put 20 points on you before you know what’s happening,” Gilkinson said. “They closed to within 14 points late in the game but we had enough to keep them at bay.

“I just believe our defence at the moment is the real factor winning us games and when we muscle up ... you know sides will always get a try against you ... my boys are making the other blokes work overtime for what they get.”

Macksville lost Jesse McEwen and Nigel Hookey to the sin bin in the second stanza but it wasn’t the reason they foundered.

The writing was already on the wall and without the work ethic of representative forwards Troy Grace and Luke Cartwright, the rout might have been diabolical.

“They didn’t play the way they’d trained so it’s back to the drawing board,” sidelined Eagles coach Grant Coleman said.

“Particularly our attacking sets which fell apart today and cost us badly.

“We came back at them near the end but far too late to force the game our way.”

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