AFTER leaking 62 points the previous week against Coffs Harbour, the Macksville Sea Eagles were going to be up against the wall, taking on the South Grafton Rebels on their home turf in Group 2 rugby league at the weekend.
The Rebels were brimming with confidence after coming away with a win against competition leaders Sawtell. Determined and unperturbed by the odds, the foundation of the game plan was created for the Sea Eagles in their first attacking opportunity.
On the end of simple backline ball movement, Keith Donovan strode across the line for the opening try of the match. A short time later South Grafton halfback Jerome Green showed a clean pair of heels through some tired defence. With the try converted, the Rebels took the lead 6-4.
Jake Simpson cut through the Rebels defence to cross for his first try mid-way through the first half. An infringement in the ruck saw the Rebels down to 12 men after centre Aaron Taylor was sin binned. The Sea Eagles took advantage with rangy fullback Tyler Blair diving over. As they headed to the sheds for half time the visitors were up 16 points to 6.
Spectators couldn’t finish their half time hot dogs before the Rebels crossed early in the second stanza. With the score at 16-12, the match turned into a gritty struggle. In a much-improved defensive display, the Macksville line held strong.
During the match the South Grafton coach Ron Gordon was ejected by referee Faron Nelson which enlivened the Rebels crowd. It took 7 foot tall and 5 foot wide man mountain Xavier Sullivan coming off the back fence to break the Sea Eagles wall-like defence. The game was delicately poised at 22-18 when Sam Miles chipped unconvincingly for Daneil Donovan, who was rewarded for his urgency, scoring out wide.
With less than five minutes to go Tyler Blair secured the win with a length of the field intercept try. It was a spectacle as Blair was too evasive for his relative Luke French, the younger brother of NRL speedster Bevan French.
- Macksville Sea Eagles 34 (Jacob Simpson 2, Tyler Blair 2, Keith Donovan, and Daneil Donovan tries, with Andrew Blair 5/6 goals) defeated South Grafton Rebels 18.
Reserve grade saw Macksville go down to the Rebels, 36 points to 18. While Daneil Donovan and Cam Cohen led the team around the park admirably it was obvious they were missing some old heads in Dutton, Lindsay and Rolff. Ryan White did his best in the middle assisted by Jordan Leckie and Harry Young.
- Rebels 36 defeated Macksville Sea Eagles 18 (Cam Cohen 2, Ryan White tries, with Cam 3 goals).
The 18s saw Macksville squander a 10-nil half time lead to go down by a field goal on the bell, 17 points to 16. Though some effort was there, poor discipline and a lack of urgency let the Rebels back into the game. Although this week is a tough one against the Sawtell Panthers, the Macksville team are more than capable of getting the points. With so much potential in their side this could be the game where the young Sea Eagles launch their season.
- Rebels 17 defeated Macksville Sea Eagles 16 (Jacob Humphries, Zane Doolan, Dylan Cartwright tries, Zane Doolan and Mitch Morrison goals).
The ladies League Tag Team continue to improve against more experienced competition. In the game that saw the end result in favour of the Rebels, 18 points to nil. The League Tag girls showed great effort and commitment to concede only one try in the second half.