Ghosts come so close in a try-fest
By Max Godbee
GRAFTON Ghosts came close to scoring their first win of the season in the 2006 Northern Rivers first grade competition yesterday, beaten by only two points 30-28 by South Tweed Koalas in a rough and tough rugby league encounter at Frank McGuren Field.
While Grafton remain winless, the victory takes South Tweed on to 12 points and a definite chance of making the sem-finals later this year.
Yesterday's match had its moments and kept the crowd cheering loudly throughout, but too many infringements stopped it from being a truly memorable game. In all there were 54 stoppages throughout the 80 minutes, made up of 31 scrums and 23 penalties.
Grafton won the scrums 17-14 and were in front on penalties 12-11.
Referee Greg Graham had a task on his hands with continual knock-ons and other infringements leading to high scrum and penalty counts.
There were no beg-pardons when it came to tackling, with big hits from both sides.
The crowd, although not seeing the finest in football, was kept entertained by the high rate of tries being scored, 11 all up, six going to the visitors and five to the Grafton side.
Grafton appeared to be the better side in the first half with a 12-6 lead, scoring two converted tries to one.
The Koalas did better in the second half with five tries to three from the Ghosts.
There were moments of fine play, but too often moves were halted by a knock-on or other infringement.
Outstanding for the victors were the halfback and captain Reece Sandy, the Slockee brothers, Gene at fullback and Doug at five eight, hooker Chris Humphries and the youthful prop Chris Somerville.
Somerville, a former West Tigers grade player, had already played a full game in Under-18, before backing up with the open side yesterday.
He contributed fine attacking work and got through a heavy defence load.
Grafton second rower, Tyson Donohue received the club's Player of the Match award.
Other leading Ghosts players were prop and captain coach Matt Michael who had a strong game in defence and hitting the ball up hard.
He was well supported by second-rower Shaun Davison, who was playing a record 135th game in first grade for the Ghosts and centre Phil Warby.
Although losing the first and reserve grade clashes yesterday, Grafton continued their good form in the Under-18s, winning 16-10.
FIRST GRADE: SOUTH TWEED 30 (Ricki Moana 2, John Keating, Chris Somerville, Chayne Ryan, Reece Sandy tries, Chris Humphries 3 goals) d GRAFTON GHOSTS 28 (Scott Kilduff 2, Jason Vidler, Joel Pierce, Josh Ryder tries, Chris Adamson 3, Josh Ryder goal). Half time: Grafton 12-6. Referee Greg Graham.
Scrums Grafton 17-14, penalties Grafton 12-11.
RESERVE GRADE: SOUTH TWEED 28 (Ben Cente, Ray Green, Phil Downes, Chris Dawes. Jack O'Shannesy, Luke Allan tries, Blain Sandy 2 goals) d GRAFTON 16 (Mick Bullivant, Robert Campbell, Warwick Brown tries, Pat Vidler 2 goals).
UNDER-18 : GRAFTON 16 (Josh McLaughlan, Khan Williams, Ben McLennan tries, Dan Roberts 2 goals) d SOUTH TWEED 10 (Mitch Hayden, Grant Stevens tries, Chayne Ryan goal).