Poor goal-kicking dumps Redmen back into fourth
By DAVE MORRISON Rugby union writer
DEFENDING premiers Lismore City scored a hard-fought but in the end, decisive 22-10 win over the Grafton Jacaranda Hotel Redmen in a top of the table clash at Lismore's Oakes Oval on Saturday.
The three tries to two result retains the competition lead for the Greens and consigns the Redmen back to fourth position and in a tight three way tussle for a major semi final berth, with just one win separating Casino, Ballina and Grafton.
While the scoreline suggests a convincing win for the home side, Grafton were right in it for the first half and for much of the second, the single try separating the sides perhaps a fair reflection of the match.
It was a game that lacked the sort of intensity of a top of the table clash, both sides missing some key players such as Nigel Marshall for Lismore, and forwards Al Donaghy and David Hales, and centres Scott Lloyd and Matt Coombs for Grafton.
The first half was an even affair with nothing separating the sides, poor goal kicking once more costing the Redmen on the scoreboard.
Grafton replied to Lismore's early penalty with a try to fullback Justin Spurway, to give them a 5-3 edge.
An opportunist try when Lismore pounced on a good bounce on halfway saw them score and take a 10-5 lead to the break.
It could have been much better for Grafton as two very gettable kicks could have tied things up at least, instead of the home side taking a handy, but not decisive lead.
First score after the break was always going to be critical and it came Lismore's way through a charge-down when pressuring the Grafton line, setting up a match winning 17-5 lead.
Another Lismore try sealed the result before Grafton replied with a late try down the blindside to Brett Graham.
Despite the close first half, Lismore gradually got on top of the Redmen and their consistency and pressure forced Grafton into many telling, fundamental mistakes, that in the end were decisive.
As important was Lismore's ability to counter the Grafton rolling maul, obviously an area where they had done plenty of homework.