Redmen close in on title
FNC Rugby Union
By Dave Morrison
THE Mighty River Redmen edged a step closer to their first minor premiership since 1988 when they accounted for Lismore City, 39-18, at South Grafton on Saturday.
It was another well rounded, team effort from Grafton in which they were dominant in all facets of play to record an important, five try to two win.
And again, it was the defence that stood out, Lismore's only tries coming against the run of play, the first a 70 metre intercept to level the scores at 7 apiece mid way through the first half, and the other capitalising on kick and chase with the last play of the game.
Redmen coach Gary Powell was all the more pleased given that the side was reshuffled to accommodate the loss before the game of crucial defenders, centre Jon Chevalley and flanker Tim Landrigan through injury.
It mattered little with players seamlessly fitting into new positions with centres Shane Denshire and Aaron Taylor again superb.
Grafton opened the scoring early, from a scrum win against the feed for winger Justin Spurway to score.
It was an ominous warning of what was to come, the Grafton scrum totally dismantling the Greens, picking up another five tight heads, one just before the break leading to a pushover try to Al Donaghy, Grafton's best, to set up a crucial 24-13 lead at the break.
Grafton didn't have things all their own way, as Lismore's defence too was sound and the match was certainly very physical and tough, and there was little in the scoreboard for most of the opening stanza.
In fact, the Greens led 10-7 10 minutes before the break and were very much in the game at this stage.
Grafton had answers to everything that Lismore could offer and had that 10 percent extra in all aspects of the game.
Two tries in the second half to Grafton, the first to fullback Trent Dickson, and the other a charge down to number eight Donaghy sealed the result.
Donaghy was a standout, two tries and in everything to romp away with the man of the match award.
Denshire and Taylor were also dominant while lock Nathan Cooper revelled in the tight, his size and strength a big factor in Grafton's powerful display up front.
And of course, the front row of Powell, Dan Hayne and Scott Forwell set the win up with their scrummaging display.