Miserly Redmen deny Bulls
By Dave Morrison
ANOTHER frugal defensive effort from the Mighty River Redmen repelled everything Casino had to offer and set up a hard fought 10-3 win at Grafton on Saturday, a result that sees them retain their leader of the Coopers Far North Coast rugby competition.
The win also enabled Grafton to regain the Hollywood Trophy, contested annually with the Bulls since 1995, which had resided in Casino for the past four seasons.
Hard-hitting defence from Grafton in the final 20 minutes forced Casino to turn over possession repeatedly while deep into Grafton territory and was ultimately the critical factor in deciding the match.
Centres Jon Chevalley and Shane Denshire were outstanding in the mid-field, while at the edge of the ruck, flanker Tim Landrigan and lock Bart McGrath shut everything down.
Grafton had looked to be well in control of things from the outset, lock Jono Speechley scoring from a pick and drive close to the Casino line with the game just five minutes old.
Aaron Taylor's conversion from a wide angle gave Grafton a seven point lead.
The game meandered somewhat for the next half hour with neither side able to gain a clear advantage, however, the Redmen appeared to be in control, waiting for the Bulls to crack.
Another Taylor penalty gave the home side a 10-point advantage by oranges, reduced to seven with a Casino penalty soon after the resumption.
As so often happens with the Bulls, they looked to be in trouble but hung in there, refusing to buckle as Grafton spent long periods in attack.
Over the line twice, and other chances squandered with poor handling, poor kicking and poor options, Grafton were placed under pressure for most of the final 10 minutes.
It was here that their defence and discipline stepped up, not falling into the mistake of over committing at the breakdown, but forcing Casino turnovers with offensive defence.
The Bulls turned over at least five possessions in the Grafton quarter late in the came and just couldn't breach the Grafton defence for a try to level the game.
It was a hard, grinding sort of game that proved once again that Grafton have the game to go a long way in this competition and Casino, the loss dropping them out of the four, will also be very competitive from here on in.
Others to stand out included prop Dan Hayne and half Brett Graham, who repeatedly got in behind the fast moving Casino defence with darting runs in counter attack.
The Redmen Seconds put on their best display of the season with a resounding 12-0 result over the high flying Bulls.
It too was a gritty effort in a hard slogging affair and was richly deserved.
Three quarters Mick McGarvie, Trent Dickson and Justin Spuway were outstanding while in the tight, Nathan Cooper and James Townes put in a mountain of work.