A case for the defence
By Dave Morrison
A TOUGH, gutsy second-half defensive effort from the Mighty River Redmen kept them at the helm of the Coopers Far North Coast Rugby competition with a 17-12 win over Lismore City at Lismore on Saturday.
Down a man for the final half hour following the red carding of Grafton flanker Tim Landrigan on a touch judge's report and playing into a strong wind, the Redmen held firm with outstanding defence to record a vital win against an in-form Lismore.
It was a huge all-round team effort to convert their 14-5 half time lead to a victory, seeing little of the ball and spending most of the time in their own quarter as Lismore took full advantage of the wind at their backs and the one player advantage.
The last 10 minutes in particular were thrilling, all pressure on both sides as Grafton defended grimly on their own line to deny Lismore the match winning try.
Despite Grafton running with the wind in the opening stanza, it was Lismore who opened the scoring with an early try to take a 5-0 lead after dominating possession for the first 10 minutes.
However, the Redmen responded to take control of proceedings for the remainder of the half, getting on top in the possession stakes.
The weight of possession was finally rewarded with two converted tries to put Grafton in a dominant but by no means safe position by the break.
The second try was a great team effort, Grafton repeatedly calling for the scrum option following penalties for Lismore collapsing the rolling maul.
Centre Jon Chevalley's chip kick out wide found fullback Aaron Taylor for the decisive try.
The somewhat controversial dismissal of Landrigan, normally Grafton's best defender, tipped the scales in Lismore's favour, however as it turned out, not enough.
It's a tough call to nominate best players in an all-round team effort.
Nevertheless, half Brett Graham may have been the pick, repeatedly nullifying Lismore's quick moving defence with darts around the ruck, taking pressure of his inside backs.
Robbie Brown's defensive effort in the second half in particular was huge and lock Matt Runge stood out with his strong running a feature.
In the backs, centre Chevalley was strong on the ball while winger Paul Cameron, normally a flanker, did some good things in his unfamiliar role.