BRENDAN Prince set his team a challenge of being NSW State Championship under-16 boys quarter-finalists at Wollongong.
They achieved that, but had to overcome the loss of key man Jacob Prince to a hamstring injury late on day one to do it.
Eventually, Port Macquarie succumbed to Manly in the quarter-finals.
The Sea Eagles eventually became state champions so there was no harm in the Makos suffering an eight-tries-to-nil defeat on Sunday.
"We could have finished even higher, but unfortunately lost Jacob Prince on the last game on Saturday," the coach said.
"If we had him, we probably would have beaten Hills on Sunday morning and then pushed for third place in the pool."
The Makos were in most of their games, suffering two two-try defeats (to Wagga Wagga 4-2 and Penrith 5-3) as well as a 3-2 defeat to Hills.
We lost a couple of games I thought we might win and won a couple of games I didn't think we might win.Port Macquarie Makos under-16 boys coach Brendan Prince
They beat Wollongong 5-4, Central Coast 4-3 and Manly '2' 5-3.
"We lost a couple of games I thought we might win and won a couple of games I didn't think we might win," Prince said.
"It (the quarter-final goal) was a challenging target for them and something they managed to do.
"I said to them at our final training session that our goal was finals and anything after that was a bonus."
Prince said the quarter-final defeat to the Sea Eagles was mainly one-way traffic as the team from Sydney's northern beaches put their mark on the competition.
"They were a class above," he said.
"They won the next couple of games fairly convincingly as well and in that win in the final they won by two tries over Penrith.
"It was 17-0 in the quarter-final, but that was with the scoring system (where the first try is worth three points and then two to avoid drop-offs).
"Not having Jacob really hurt us on the Sunday especially in attack."
He went down late on Saturday after taking a length of the field intercept.
"He is the key man for us and on Saturday he was playing at New South Wales level; he was killing it," Prince said.
Prince admitted his team "probably over-achieved" and the biggest difference from the northern conference to the State Championships was the level of touch football played.
Not having Jacob really hurt us on the Sunday especially in attack.Brendan Prince
"It was a huge step up," he said.
"You had the boys asking who were the easy teams, but there aren't any.
"Every game at that was like playing a quarter final at the old State Cup
"It was a great level of touch footy all weekend; it was enjoyable to watch as well as take part in."
The coach singled out Theo Garland and Toby Lewis as standouts over the weekend in their positions.
"All the boys played well and the key to them playing so well is they all genuinely get along like a house on fire so that's a big part of their success," he said.
"It was great for the boys to get a trip away together as a team, but if anything there was far too long between the northern conference and the final."
Meanwhile, Port Macquarie's under-10 girls also made the quarter-finals before they were beaten by Manly who were then beaten by the Easts Roosters in the grand final.
The Makos' under-10 boys, under-14 boys and under-16 girls all didn't progress past the pool stages.
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