Redmen crush students
By DAVE MORRISON
THE Grafton Jacaranda Hotel Redmen shrugged off an indifferent opening 40 minutes to storm home with 31 unanswered points to defeat Southern Cross University at South Grafton on Saturday.
The result was Grafton's third win on the trot and saw them leapfrog the students into fourth spot on the competition table.
Mid-week rain led Far North Coast Rugby to transfer the game to Grafton from Lismore at the last minute, however the playing surface was surprisingly good and has little influence on the result.
A bigger influence was, once more, the dominance of the Redmen pack which is fast forging a reputation as the best in the competition, dominating about 65 per cent of the possession to gradually grind down a plucky University pack.
With quality ball at their disposal, the Grafton backs continued to gain confidence as a unity with man of the match, five-eighth Jon Chevally, mixing a running game and tactical kicking like a veteran.
The Redmen didn't have it all their own way.
In the opening 10 minutes Grafton was camped on the Gold Rats' line, but despite being over the line three times, they came away with nothing.
University's first venture into Redmen territory saw them come away with a try from a Grafton turnover, the grab a surprise 7 point lead.
This was the story of the first half, Grafton putting on plenty of pressure, but conceding three soft tries each time University got near their line.
It appeared to be a worrying trend, with the visitors holding a 17-10 right up to the break until, on the stroke of halftime, centre Paul Allen regather a kick ahead on the full and put Chevally in under the posts to level the score at oranges.
This was a critical score.
The second half was a far more urgent effort from Grafton, getting well and truly on top to clinically put the students away.
A rolling maul try to flanker Paul Cameron, their second such try for the match, put Grafton ahead and when centre Matt Coombs burst through to score out wide, the result and bonus point were sealed.
The scoring was completed with prop David Hales being rewarded for his best game in the red and white with a try, and fullback Justin Spurway scoring from what is becoming one of his trademark incursions into the backline.
University deserve credit, they were a depleted outfit and competed well all day.
Grafton's powerful pack continues to dominate, scoring twice with their signature rolling mauls, but over the line on six other occasions, the grounding of the ball unable to be seen amidst a mass of bodies.
Number eight Robbie Brown was inspirational as leader and flanker Tim Landrigan tackled himself to a standstill.
The backs continue to develop as a unit, their defence in particular strong and taking the ball to the gain line all day.
In the seconds , Grafton returned to the winners list with an emphatic 50-5 demolition of the students.