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BETTER handling and higher completion rates were Macksville’s reasons for downing Macleay Valley 42-24 at Allen Gillett Oval.

Captain-coach Grant Coleman said at times his side went off the boil but, step by step the outfit is getting to the level of achievement he feels most comfortable with.

“Without a doubt we won the game with the groundwork in the first half,” he revealed.

“It doesn’t always look it but I can feel that this side is getting better and better each week with the way it gets little things right when it counts.

“Right from the start we were getting through the sets without dropping too much pill and then getting a good kick away at the end.

“When you’re chasing the ball on the fifth instead of bashing your way up field all day it makes it so much easier.”

Rock-solid defence played a big part in putting the win grin on Sea Eagles faces after the Mustangs hit back with a vengeance late in the game.

“Right at the end they got six or seven possessions in a row and were able to put quality points on the board,” Coleman said.

“That can always happen when you hit a rough patch and the work you’ve already done starts to pay off.”

While Macleay are finding reality is starting to take big bites out of their season, the signs are bright with the production line for talented juniors starting to hit top gear.

They produced tall 17-year-old Jared Saul from their winning under-18 side and the precocious outside back stamped himself on the game by scoring a try and setting up another for a team-mate in a noteworthy first grade debut.

The winners were best served by the return of Jesse McEwen to his rightful place wide in the backline and it looks like his brief excursion as a five-eighth is over.

“Running onto the ball is Jess’s go and that’s where he’ll stay from now on,” Coleman added.

With three weeks remaining until the turnaround, Macksville now face arguably their toughest run with away trips to Sawtell and Port Macquarie, followed by a visit from a rapidly improving Bellingen in quick succession.

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