Former Grafton Rhino Jeff Skeen was soon back to his damaging best.
Former Grafton Rhino Jeff Skeen was soon back to his damaging best. Gary Nichols

Sea change for Seahorses

FOR Woolgoolga coach Greg Shuttleworth, his team's 60-28 thumping of the Macleay Valley Mustangs on Sunday might not have been the prettiest of wins, but there were enough positive signs to suggest the Seahorses will be a major force this year.

Shuttleworth said he was happy to come away with the two competition points but added there was plenty of improvement left in the new-look Group 2 team.

"The second half was a lot better. But in the first half they scored 18 points from three kicks. We just stood there and watched," he said.

"Once we got a bit of ball and showed some patience I thought we basically took control of the game."

In their first major hit-out of the season, the Seahorses struggled to gel as a team but gave their supporters plenty of hope with some flashes of brilliance out wide and stinging defence around the ruck.

"We're basically a work in progress. There are six new blokes in the footy club but we're certainly on track," Shuttleworth said.

"It's a tight-knit group, which is a very important factor."

Both teams looked a bit underdone in the opening exchanges, with unforced errors and at times "turnstile" defence up the middle third of the park.

The healthy crowd on hand enjoyed the liberal dose of on-field action and controversy to whet the appetites of the die-hard fans.

Locked at 22-all at the break, the Seahorses skipped ahead in the second half with some enterprising play.

The Mustangs faded badly late in the game, dropping off tackles and appearing more focused on seeking "get-squares" than playing footy.

Woolgoolga centre Clark Webb proved a handful out wide, as did Fijian import Joe Ravueta, whose powerhouse running had the Seahorses' fans in a frenzy each time he touched the ball.

Stocky halfback Will Fernando's silken skills were also on show, while former Grafton Rhino back-rower Jeff Skeen picked up a double in his debut for his new club.

The Seahorses have been bolstered this year by several Clarence Valley players, who Shuttleworth said were impressive in their first game of the season.

"Jeff Skeen was great in the second half and Joe proved a handful every time he touched the ball," he said.

"Woodsy (Ben Woods) and Todd (Cameron) contributed as well and I'm very happy with their performances."

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