TAREE coach Ben Sedlen declared Macleay Valley the 'benchmark' in the Coastal Premier League football competition after Rangers downed his side 3-0 in the clash at the Zone Field at Taree.
"Macleay's a good team. That's what we're aspiring to be,'' Sedlen said.
"They've played together for a long time and they have confidence in each other.''
Sedlen pointed out that Rangers were a perennial powerhouse in the former Football Mid North Coast Premier League and they've carried that form into the Coastal competition.
"They dominated us right from the start,'' he said.
"We had a couple of players withdraw on Saturday morning, so we were a bit disrupted, but then again, so did they.''
Macleay has moved to the top of the competition ladder after Coffs Coast United played a draw with Boambee.
The Rangers now have 10 points and are one clear of Port United.
However, Sedlen was happy with the way his players stuck to the task in difficult conditions, with rain falling through much of the game.
Replacement goal keeper Dylan Webber was strong for the Wildcats. Webber came into the side when regular keeper Curtis Jones was forced out.
Skipper Justin Atkins tried hard.
The Wildcats are scheduled to play Port Saints at the Zone Field on Wednesday night while they head north to face Boambee on Saturday.
"They'll be two tough games, but they're all tough in this competition,'' Sedlen said.