One-point loss agonising for Redmen
By DAVE MORRISON
THE Grafton Redmen came up just one agonising point short from defeating competition leaders Casino on Saturday, the Bulls 14-13 win at Grafton keeping them atop the Far North Coast ladder.
It was two tries each in a tough, uncompromising game that could have gone either way, the visitor's superior kicking game instrumental in deciding the result.
Both sides had plenty of opportunities to win, Casino took theirs whereas Grafton didn't, and on that basis could lay claim to be deserving winners. On the other hand, Grafton can feel that they came home strongly in the second half when they played to their strengths and probably should have put Casino away.
The Bulls had the better of the first half, leading 7-0 at the break following a somewhat opportunistic try, following through a kick that Grafton failed to clean up.
The game was tough and hard, however poor kicking from the Redmen in general play was very costly, giving the ball back to Casino and not allowing the powerful Redmen pack to get into the game.
There were a number of kicking duels, which Casino generally won with interest.
They turned Grafton around repeatedly with a variety of kicks and capitalised on Grafton's inability to find the touchline.
The second half was a far better effort from the home side.
They kept the ball in hand and as a result, were able to use their forward power.
An early trademark rolling maul try got them on the board, 5-7 down but right in the contest.
A penalty followed to give Grafton an 8-7 lead.
It seemed that Grafton were getting on top of a tenacious Casino defence that gave no quarter, and it seemed more so midway through the half when five eighth Jon Chevalley scored near the posts to put them 13-7 ahead.
Five minutes from time, another Grafton kick that failed to find the line was punished, the Casino winger using his pace to evade a number of defenders to score next to the posts.
The resultant conversion gave the lead back to the Bulls, who despite being under some more late pressure from the Grafton attack, held on by the skin of their teeth for a valuable win.
It was a highly entertaining game, very hard and it's closeness keeping the crowd involved to the end.
Casino deserve credit for hanging on.