THE ORARA Valley Axemen proved too determined for the Macksville Sea Eagles on Saturday at Coramba Sportsground, running out 26-12 winners in a Group 2 rugby league match.
With both teams going into this game equal on fifth place with Woolgoolga and only three games left before the semis this was always going to be a tough match for the Eagles and in the end Orara proved themselves the better team on the day.
Orara set this victory up in the first half when they scored three unanswered tries to lead 14-0 at the break. A converted try to the Axemen in the early stages of the second half all but put the game beyond the Eagles reach.
With heavy rain falling throughout the first half the Axemen were able to cope with the poor conditions more effectively, holding on to the ball and completing their sets while the Eagles struggled to maintain possession.
The Eagles began to put their act together mid way through the second half and when Josh Cockbain chased a grubber kick from Nev Donovan to score and Donovan converted, the Axemen's lead had been reduced to 20-6.
Any chances of an Eagles' comeback were made worse soon after when the Axemen went in for another converted try to lead 26-6.
The Eagles had one more try in them, however, and this came late in the game when the Eagles started the attack from their own half with a series of short passes that put Damien Carriage on a long run through three defenders before sending a great ball to Tyler Blair backing up to score under the posts.
The reserve grade clash saw the Eagles turn in possibly their finest game of the season as 11 players took the field from the beginning of the game but they were actually able to lead the Axemen 26-22 early in the second half.
The Eagles were the first to score through Ben Goulder despite being outnumbered and they were competitive with their opponents throughout the first half.
The second half saw the Eagles start well, but numbers and injuries finally took their toll and the Eagles went down 56-26.
As well as Goulder, John Thaiday scored two tries for the Eagles, while Tyler Blair and Zac Johnson scored a try each and Thaiday, Goulder and Cameron Cohen kicked a goal each.
The League Tag women provided the Eagles with their only win on the day, defeating the Orara team 8-4.
With the team having won their last game and picked up two points from the bye, the Eagles are now a chance for the semis, though they would need results to fall in their favour over the final games.
Michelle Jarrett and Nicole Welsh scored the tries for the Eagles.
This Sunday sees the second round of the local derby when the Eagles host the Nambucca Heads Roosters at Allan Gillett Oval in four grades.
This Sunday's games will also see a celebration of the Indigenous heritage of both clubs. The day will kick off at 10.30. The Eagles will wear special jerseys on the day, some of which will be auctioned off after the game at the Macksville Ex-Servicemens Club.