Sea Eagles building new era with Comets latest notch on belt
IT'S TOO early to predict Macksville is back to the glory days but the Sea Eagles showed fortunes are rising by beating Coffs Harbour 40-22 at Geoff King Motors Park.
The match was won in the first 30 minutes when the visitors replied to the home side's opening try with three off the bat.
Those crossings came with an equal measure of textbook stuff and tricky stuff and if the side keeps producing crowd-pleasing touches like they did in that half hour, the crowds that flocked to see them play in the last golden age will come rushing back.
Under new captain-coach Aaron Wood, it hasn't been a matter of getting an under-achieving side to lift their efforts since he arrived from France.
Rather, since taking the reins at the club where his father (Brian) is a coaching legend, Wood says he's merely been encouraging already talented athletes to reach their potential.
"I haven't done much apart from make a couple of positional changes and generally, it's been up to the players and their decisions that have helped us go ahead," he said.
"There's a bit of toughness in the pack and we've got skill and speed to get us over the line.
"It's a good mix and getting results."
One of the unsung heroes is former fullback Jeremy Taylor who since coming up from Kempsey, has been a revelation after switching to halfback.
"He's tall and has good vision across the field," the coach agreed.
"In that position he's playing well but is only part of going upwards."
The Comets spent most of the afternoon off the boil but still looked sharp and dangerous in attack.
However, there was a feeling not everybody was concentrating and movements faltered when groups on the opposite side of the paddock to where the ball was located, were obviously not ready to move if a phase of play came their way.
A big part of their problem was having Macksville move up quickly in defence - some might say a little too quickly on occasions - causing the attack to move laterally rather than straight ahead.
"They certainly got us on the fringes," Coffs coach Colin Speed said.
"We also left a few gaps in the middle that they were very quick to exploit and put us on the back foot.
"Things got a bit lost also when Nathan Curry was off the field.
"I think you have to give more credit to Macksville for being on their game in the first half when they got through us with those tries and while we can back, I don't think it was going to totally turn back our way."
At Frank McGuren Field, Grafton returned to winning ways with a 36- 4 victory over Orara Valley.
Competitive in most of their recent outings, including a four point win over Sawtell in round six, the Axemen trailed 12-4 at half-time but were very much in the contest.
However, handling errors proved costly while some refereeing calls went against the Axemen at crucial time.
On the contrary, the Ghosts took their opportunities to run away in the second half and stem a two-match losing streak in the bud.
MACKSVILLE SEA EAGLES 40 (Kyle Miller, Aaron Wood, Jeremy Taylor, Peter Bula, Rick Morris, Tyler Searle, Joe Borg tries; Jeremy Taylor 6 goals) def COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 22 (Shayde Perham, Cody Berry, Ryan Gilkinson, John Oakes tries; Kerrod Selmes 2, Nathan Curry goals)
Grafton d Orara Valley 36-4
Nambucca Heads d Sawtell 52-30
South Grafton d Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 42-10