PROP LEADS CHARGE
By MAX GODBEE
GRAFTON High School's go-forward attitude, led by vigorous prop Ben Ellis, was the deciding factor in the team's 26-16 win over Maclean High to take out an entertaining 2006 final of The Daily Examiner Rugby League Shield on Thursday night.
Grafton came from 12-6 down at one stage for the McKittrick Park victory.
Overall they crossed for four tries to three with centre Scott Bennett converting all four tries and adding a penalty goal to give him five goals and 10 points for the match.
The penalty goal came just short of halftime and only two minutes after Maclean had forsaken a penalty kick from in front when the score was locked at 12-12. Instead they opted to attempt a try and took a tap kick.
However, the chance went astray on the second tackle with a ball fumble.
Bennett's two-point kick allowed the Grafton team to go into the break with a 14-12 lead.
Play in the first half had see-sawed from one end of the field to the other but Grafton High were more dominant in the second session.
In the Shield semi-final matches the previous week Grafton had beaten Catherine McAuley College and Maclean surprisingly defeated South Grafton High.
Thursday's final saw Ellis's hit-up play and solid tackling gain him the player of the match award, with Bennett, who had starred in Grafton's win the previous week, named player of the series.
Maclean opened the scoring attacking strongly and on the final tackle halfback and captain Jackson Philp put in a high crossfield kick which fullback Kyle Armstrong, surrounded by Grafton defenders, plucked out of the air and forced over the line one metre ahead for the first try.
Philp converted to have Maclean leading 6-0.
Grafton equalised five minutes later with a similar type kick, this time from halfback Carson Galloway from centre field and taken out wide by winger Josh McLachlan to touch down in the corner.
Bennett's sideline conversion brought the score to six-all.
Maclean went ahead again shortly after when their ubiquitous centre Callum Lenard scored the team's second four-pointer and again Philp kicked true for 12-6. Khan Williams, Grafton five-eighth, ran a straight 15 metres untouched to score under the posts with Bennett adding the extras to tie the score.
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It looked as though that would be the score at halftime until Bennett's penalty goal from 35 metres out and on a wide angle gave Grafton the two-point advantage.
Grafton started the second half in dramatic fashion with second-rower Anthony Wicks taking the ball in his own in-goal and running the full length down the sideline before crossing to touch down under the crossbar.
It was Ellis who finished the scoring for Grafton, barging over with 12 minutes of play remaining.
Maclean hooker Byron Aitken brought up his team's only points in the second half when he scored just short of fulltime for a final 26-16 result to Grafton.
The Grafton High School win brings with it a cheque for $1000 from the South Grafton Rebels Rugby League Club.
The cheque will be presented at the school assembly on Monday.
In the consolation open final, South Grafton High beat