Ghosts squander lead to go down to Tweed
By Bob Anthony
THE South Tweed Koalas have opened their Northern Rivers Rugby League campaign with a nailbiting win over the Grafton Ghosts at Dave Burns Field South Tweed 26-24 yesterday.
With the home side trailing 24-20 and with only a few minutes left on the clock, a penalty from a midfield melee, resulted in the Koalas having the ball and it was left to the smallest man on the field, halfback Reece Sandy to dart through a tired Grafton defence for a four-pointer to level the scores.
South Tweed goal kicker Ricky Moana had a pressure kick to steal the win and he responded with a fine style much to delight the home crowd.
A relieved South Tweed captain coach Matt Manning said it was a game of two halves with his side putting plenty of pressure on themselves in the first half through handling errors and poor ball control.
"I made it clear to the team at half time that if we could retain possession, the points would come our way and that's what happened," Manning said.
In a dazzling period shortly after half time, the Koalas, trailing 24-0, put on 20 points in 20 minutes, giving the vocal home crowd plenty to cheer about.
However, South Tweed began to suffer the same problems of handling towards the end of the second half to give the visitors a chance of sealing the match.
But Grafton also had their own share of handling errors and as the clock counted down, the desperation in the match showed with a subsequent fight resulting in a player from each side being sent to the sin bin and South Tweed receiving the penalty which led to the winning converted try.
Manning said his side had to work hard to control the sizeable Grafton pack and was pleased with their commitment especially in the second half.
He singled out prop Rob Loring and elusive halfback Reece Sandy as among this best players.
The captain also lead by example on the field and contributed to the scoring with a try.It was a good day for the home side with the reserve grade fighting out a tough 34-all draw while the Under-18s posted an impressive 26-18 over Grafton.
FIRST GRADE: SOUTH TWEED 26 - Tries: Ricky Moana, Matt Smith, Matt Manning, Reece Sandy, Kurt Richardson. Goals: Ricky Moana 3 d GRAFTON GHOSTS 24 - Tries: Shaun Davidson 2, Scott Kilduff 2. Goals: Chris Adamson 4
RESERVE GRADE: South Tweed 34 d Grafton Ghosts 34
UNDER-18: South Tweed Koalas 26 d Grafton Ghosts 18