Ghosts win bragging rights
By Max Godbee
Rugby league writer
WITH officials of both Grafton and South Grafton clubs talking amalgamation, it may have been the final cross-river local derby in senior rugby league and Grafton took the honours winning both reserve grade and Under-18s at Frank McGuren Field yesterday.
Amalgamation is not yet final and opinions are still strongly divided, as was clearly shown by yesterday's vociferous and partisan crowd, but many claim a joining of the two long-time rival clubs is on the cards for next season.
South Grafton have not been able to field a first grade team this year, but continued in the competition with reserve grade and Under-18 sides playing each week.
Grafton's Under-18s were too big and too well organised for the Rebels yesterday, outscoring their opponents five tries to two. However, there appeared to be little between the two sides territory-wise, the difference being the Ghosts' ability to make more of their chances when they came.
Grafton led throughout in the reserve grade encounter, given an early lead just after four minutes, when centre Jason Cheney raced across for the first four pointer. Before South Grafton could post their first points, Ghosts had raced to a 16-0 lead with further tries to Scott Pereira and then Deon Donnelly, who ran off a tremendous pass from tough centre and captain Travis Daley.
South Grafton had their chances, twice held up over the line, another time crossing then dropping the ball before it could be forced.
Eventually hooker Jayde Kearns dived over from dummy half to have the teams go into the break with Grafton leading 16-4. Just a few minutes after halftime Grafton made it 22-4 with a try to hooker Chad Cassidy, converted by halfback Pat Vidler. South Grafton then played their best football of the match, scoring three tries without reply, one each to Eddie de Bono, Doug Daley and a 60-metre gem from Daniel Bligh, and with successful conversions, they had clawed back to be just four points short of their opponents, trailing 18-22 with 10 minutes to go.
Those 10 minutes belonged to Grafton, taking their score to 34 before fulltime.
Best players for the winners were Travis Daley at centre and part time five-eighth, Cassidy, prop Scott Kilduff and the halves Pat Vidler and Josh Nagle. Standouts for South Grafton were centre John Carney, five-eighth Doug Daley and prop Scott Cooper.