It won't go down in the history books as Port Macquarie Sharks' most complete performance, but it didn't make it any less important.
The Sharks tightened their grip on the second rung of the Group 3 rugby league first grade ladder with a comfortable 34-10 victory over Macleay Valley in Wauchope on Saturday.
Port Macquarie led from start to finish to claim a much-needed win which increased their margin over third-placed Old Bar to five points.
The Pirates have two postponed games in hand.
Teenage winger Hayden Orley and five-eighth Cuban Piper crossed for doubles while Dylan Adams, Dylan Clarke and Slade Long also claimed four-pointers.
Sharks coach Dave Geary said it was a confidence-boosting performance that followed their loss to Wauchope a fortnight ago.
"It was a pretty scrappy win, but I'm really happy that we got the win and grinded it out like I talk about every week," he said.
"They're the ones we need to win and we spoke about how we needed to win this week and win well. We had a few debutantes today in Joe Lewis and Riley Rampling, so that's probably the pleasing thing that we put in a pretty decent performance with so many injuries.
"Hopefully now we can hit some form and hit some consistency."
Geary will hope to welcome back Scott Grant, James Kelly, Brayden Reid and Chris Piper in coming weeks.
The Sharks led 20-10 at the break and the Mustangs ill-discipline and errors in the second half never allowed them to maintain any sort of pressure.
They didn't utilise a howling breeze at their backs.
Halfback and captain Ant Cowan admitted his team contributed to their own downfall.
"When you're playing top teams like the Sharks they'll keep coming at you and if you keep giving them the ball, you're going to be tackling all day," he said.
"We can't be doing that, but we've still got six or seven games to go which is a lot of footy and we can still regroup and hopefully get our full-strength side back soon."
Macleay Valley also had injury concerns of their own with a number of young players forced into first grade.
"It's a learning curve and we had another four or five young fellas making their debut today to make numbers up," Cowan said.
"There are some good signs and I take a lot of positives out of that game and move forward to next week.
"The first 30 minutes they threw the kitchen sink at us and we defended really well and were right in the game. Same in the second half, but discipline is the key and it's a learning curve again for these young fellas."
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