Redmen seconds falter in final moments
By DAVE MORRISON
THE Grafton Redmen second grade rugby union team went within a whisker of defending their second grade rugby title, leading right up to injury time before a late try and conversion to Ballina winger Tom Mills snatched the title for Ballina, 18-14.
In a game that neither side could gain dominance over the other, the Redmen looked to have done enough after hitting the front midway through the second half after Simon Green scored and converted to give Grafton a 14-8 lead.
Whether they fell into the trap of defending their lead, or whether Ballina lifted a notch with the wind behind them is unclear, however the Seahorses spent most of the final 15 minutes attacking Grafton's territory and the final score had a certain inevitability about it.
Grafton scored early through centre Shan Warren to lead 7-0, however, by half time, Ballina had gained a point lead, 8-7, through a try and penalty to five-eighth Adam Gordon.
Grafton had all the dominance in the first 20 minutes after the break, and in reality it was here that the game was effectively decided.
For all their dominance, Grafton came away with just the seven points and the feeling at the time was that they needed to score just once more in that period to seal the result.
Despite going awfully close with a couple of tight decisions, they could not cross again, as it turned out, this was crucial.
Diminutive young half Dennis Bank had another outstanding game despite taking the field with serious injury, his courage an inspiration to his team mates.
Lee Green in the centres and prop Matt Woods were other standouts amongst a side that all went well, but just fell short by a couple of minutes.