Redmen hold late surge from the Buccaneers
By DAVE MORRISON
THE Grafton Redmen withstood a late two-try surge to earn a hard fought 21-15 win over the Yamba Buccaneers in the local rugby union derby on Saturday.
Grafton looked to have the game well in hand leading 21-3 mid way through the second half, seemingly poised to run up a big score as a game Yamba side tired.
However, the Buccaneers stepped up a notch, and perhaps Grafton eased back a little, with the result that two tries in the last 10 minutes to Yamba fullback Adrian Miller suddenly set up the possibility of a last-gasp Yamba win.
Grafton held firm despite a late attacking surge from Yamba, to record a well-deserved victory.
Mercurial Grafton fullback Justin Spurway opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a tremendous individual effort out wide, using his speed to run around three defenders when little appeared on.
Jason Landrigan's sideline conversion set up a 7-0 lead for the home side, a score line that remained unchanged to the break.
The first stanza was typical of local derbies, hard and physical at the tackle and ruck, with the contest for possession fierce, but both sides a little wary of doing too much at risk of handing the initiative to the opposition.
The result was plenty of tactical kicking from both sides, few scoring opportunities, and a game apparently waiting to happen.
Grafton looked to be in reasonable control but found it hard to crack a willing Yamba defence to kick clear.
The decisive break came straight after the resumption from oranges.
Early Grafton pressure and quick hands in the backs saw winger Mick McGarvie cross wide out, another sideline conversion, this time from Trent Dickson, saw Grafton's lead double to 14 points and seemingly well in control.
And that's the way the game seemed to be panning out as Grafton improved their forward running game, allowing
n Continued:P30.man of the match, five-eighth Jon Chevalley more latitude to attack the defence.
A couple of Chevalley breaks were instrumental in setting the platform for the match deciding try, Grafton Number Eight Al Donaghy crashing over near the posts to set up an apparently unassailable 21-3 lead.
Yamba's late surge first put greater respectability in the score, and then put some real pressure on Grafton to hold onto their lead in the final five minutes.
The Buccaneers won plenty of deserved respect for their plucky effort to the end, however in the final analysis, Grafton were in control for most of the match and were deserving winners.
Coach Gary Powell was happy with the result, always difficult to earn against their Valley neighbours, and put down their at times somewhat scrappy performance to a lack of football in recent weeks following two byes.
Aside from Chevalley and Donaghy, Grafton were best served by prop David Hales and flanker Tim Landrigan in his 150th Club game.
Adrian Miller was best for the Buccaneers.