Revenge sweet for Redmen
By DAVE MORRISON
IT was sweet revenge for the Mighty River Redmen on Saturday when they turned the tables on their grand final conqueror from last season, Ballina, with a convincing 37-27 victory at Ballina.
Despite the closeness of the scores, Grafton were in control for most of the match until some late match lethargy let the Seahorses back into the contest in the final 15 minutes.
Grafton coach Gary Powell was an understandably a happy man after the five try to four win.
"We played a near faultless first half, and did everything right. I thought we got on top in the forwards and our backs attacked very well" he said.
The defending premiers opened the scoring with an early try, however, from there it was the Redmen who dominated for the first hour, racking up a match winning 30-8 lead with just 20 minutes remaining.
A trademark Redmen rolling maul got their first points with half Brett Graham capitalising.
From there, with the Grafton pack on top and laying a solid platform, their backs showed that they have plenty of options to score, with centre Scott Lloyd and fullback Aaron Taylor particularly dangerous.
Taylor had a great game, not only in attack as he pulled off numerous great cover defending tackles including at least three certain try savers.
He would have been man of the match if not for another blinder of a game from Jon Chevalley, as usual, everywhere in punishing defence and taking the line on with the ball.
Leading 30-8 into the final quarter of the game, it seemed that the Redmen had the result in the bag, and perhaps a bit of complacency, maybe a lack of fitness, and a couple of injuries all contributed to Ballina making a late charge to get back into the contest.
Three tries suddenly saw the score reduced to 30-27 and it was game on.
However, the issues was settled soon after.
Replacement centre Ray Mercy found a hole and slipped a ball to Taylor who raced over under the posts to seal a deserving win for the Redmen.
Mercy showed enough to suggest that he'll be a more than handy acquisition for Grafton, dangerous in attack and devastating in defence.
While the backs took most of the plaudits, the Grafton pack was solid and set up the result, prop Scott Forwell and lock Matt Runge standing out.
The scene is now set for a bumper Sponsors Day at Grafton next week for the Redmen's first home game against a highly fancied and apparently stronger University side.
In the lower grades, under-strength Grafton sides battled hard against stiff opposition to lose comfortably, but in doing so, showed signs of better things to come.