THE MACKSVILLE Sea Eagles matched Tooheys New Group 2 rugby league leaders Grafton Ghosts on Sunday at Allan Gillett Oval for the first half before being overpowered in the second half, going down 54-16.
This was literally a match of two halves, the Eagles defence stymieing the Ghosts' attack through the first half. But the robust challenge to the vaunted Grafton side came unstuck after the break when errors and penalties cost the Eagles dearly.
The Eagles were the first to score when Jesse McEwen finished off a great short passing movement close to the line and Neville Donovan converted to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead.
The Ghosts struck back quickly to level and went ahead to 12-0 before Jacob Simpson ran on to a great ball from Donovan to score close to the posts. Donovan's conversion levelled the scores at 12-all.
The Ghosts pulled ahead soon after and just as the bell was ringing they crossed for the final try of the half to see the scoreline at half time read Grafton 24, Macksville 12.
The break did not help the Eagles, especially when the Ghosts scored soon after the resumption to take a 30-12 lead.
The Ghosts ran in a further six tries in the half before Simpson capped a fine game with his second try of the day, again showing the skills of the Eagles but unfortunately the try and Donovan's conversion were too late for a comeback and the Ghosts ran out convincing winners.
The reserve grade clash saw the Eagles with only a bare 13 players and when they lost a man to injury and another to the sin bin the challenge proved too much, the Ghosts running out 76-14 winners.
Despite the scoreline the players were not disgraced and kept up their efforts for the full game. Dave Lindsay crossed for two tries for the Eagles while Cameron Cohen scored a try and kicked to goals.
The Under 18s clash went the same way as the first grade, the Eagles matching the Ghosts for the first half of the game before being overpowered by the competition leaders late in the match to go down 38-16.
The lead swapped back and forth between the two teams in the opening 40 before the Ghosts took control of the game and ran in four late tries.
Blake Brunsdon score two tries for the Eagles, while Luke Ormandy scored a try and Zane Doolan and Mitch Morrison kicked a goal each.
This Saturday sees the Eagles travel to Coramba to take on the Orara Valley Axemen in three grades, the Axemen not having an Under 18s, with the League Tag to kick off at noon.
The following Sunday, July 23, the Eagles will host the Nambucca Heads Roosters in a day which will celebrate the Indigenous heritage of both clubs.