Redmen make new entry in rugby history books

To say that last Saturday was a good day for the Redmen would be quite an understatement.

A tremendous result to cap a tremendous season allows the Grafton Jacaranda Hotel Redmen qualify for their first first grade grand final since 1999, and their first since re-entering the Far North Coast Competition.

For history buffs, you have to go back to 1988 to see the red and white in the main grade Far North Coast decider.

Their win was thoroughly deserved and testimony to a hard-edged determination and commitment to fight it out to the death that has earmarked Grafton's season and become a feature that perhaps has set them out from the rest.

The game was not surprisingly as close as this Far North Coast season has been, the lead changing six times and twice in injury time.

The second half went 49 minutes.

I thought that the Redmen's effort to come back after conceding the lead in the 46th minute, one which they had held for a long time, and to do so by not panicking, but by sticking to their tried and proven rolling maul showed great mental toughness and discipline.

That will certainly hold them in great stead in the decider.

nALL credit too to the seconds, up against hot favourites Ballina, who had lost just once all year.

At 10-10 it was anyone's game but the Grafton pack stood up for a con- vincing and deserved victory.

nI GUESS the debate about the grand final venue will continue to hot up.

There are pros and cons about the current system and I don't intend to go into that now.

The focus is now on getting as much of what would have been a huge Grafton crowd if the venue were to be decided on a first past the post basis, to Lismore to try to give a bit of atmosphere to what I consider to be a characterless Oakes Oval devoid of atmosphere.

Supporters buses or bus are being arranged, but the club need to know numbers, so supporters are being requested to indicate their intentions to either myself or members of the com- mittee as soon as possible.

nGRAND final opponents will be decided at Lismore this week and are once more little more than a toss of the coin.

Much will depend on how Casino back up following such a heart-breaking loss.

I think they'll have a little bit too much up front for Ballina just sneak home.

Ballina should earn a rematch in seconds with an easy win over Lismore while in Thirds, it's all go for the Yamba Buccaneers to make it a Clarence Valley trifecta by ending Lismore's season.

The Bucs looked good in their semifinal at Grafton seem to have the goods to take on Byron Bay in the decider.

In the Under-19s, Lismore should regroup and beat Casino to earn the right to take on Wollongbar.

George under pump

SYDNEY. ? Wallabies skipper George Gregan has found himself under the pump again - this time literally.

Gregan got the chance to show off his barista skills to Sydney's foodies yesterday in a promotion for a new coffee machine that bears his name.

With echoes of George Foreman's kitchen appliance brand, Gregan stood under the coffee pump and made short blacks for his guests with the new machine, which bears a logo combining a cappuccino and a rugby ball.

He was certainly more intent on talking coffee than his future as Australian halfback and captain.

The 32-year-old's ambition to play on until the 2007 Rugby World Cup has been the subject of speculation since the Wallabies failed to win any of their matches in the recent Tri-Nations series.

Selectors are expected to name a train-on squad for the November tour of France, Britain and Ireland as early as this week.

"I don't take anything for granted," Gregan said. "I'm fit and available and that's a decision for the selectors to make.

"Players don't make those decisions."

While that was all he was saying about rugby, Gregan was more than happy to talk about his other passion, coffee.

His future may lie with the successful cafe business he's built with his wife Erica since 1998, should Eddie Jones and his fellow selectors decide Gregan's 114-Test career is over.

"It's been heading in this direction for a long time," he said.

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GRAFTON aims to right the ship as they set sail for the grand final.

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