Silence of the Ghosts
By TONY WHITE
IT was a case of silent lambs to the slaughter at Frank McGuren Park yesterday.
The Grafton Ghosts were hammered 64-12 by premiership hot shots, Tweed Heads Seagulls.
Down 64-nil after 60 minutes, the Ghosts, to their credit, fought back strongly in the latter stages to score two converted tries.
However, the game was gone and Ghosts only had themselves to blame for the whopping defeat.
The Seagulls remained undefeated this season in all three grades, the Under-18s, reserve and first grade amassing 146 points to the Ghosts 30.
Unless the Ghosts first grade outfit learn to talk and encourage each other on the field of combat they're destined to a season of ignominy.
There are some willing workers in the team, a couple with class, and yes a spate of injuries have been disruptive, but you can't win football games by continually missing tackles and at times playing simply dumb football.
And too often in attack, due to slow, misdirected passes, the first receiver is left with few options when crowded by eager defenders.
Getting the basics right would be an ideal platform to start the rebuilding process.
Coach Matt McKee at least found a positive from the shellacking.
"It was good to see we never gave in," he said. "We were down 64 nil with 20 minutes to go and the boys had been up against it but they didn't throw the towel in."
Talk around league circles suggests the Seagulls and the other former Group 18 team Murwillumbah's dominance is ruining the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition.
A huge gulf is developing between the upper and lower sides.
McKee believes Tweed's participation in the Group is good.
"I believe they should be in it and it's up to the other clubs to pick up their game and work forward rather than retreat," he said.
"We (clubs) all know we've got to find ways of lifting our standard if we are going to compete."
The signs are there that unless the Ghosts and Rebels start working
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towards a merger, and Kyogle and Casino do the same, their long term survival in the new league is questionable.
The Ghosts are believed to have a yearly budget of around $25,000 compared to Tweed's $200,000-plus which allows them to buy quality players.
Seagulls coach Troy McCarthy said the Seagulls have 64 graded players (not counting Under-18s) on their books which includes its Queensland Cup side.
"A couple of years back we were in a similar position down the ladder but we've worked hard to instill a good culture in the club and rebuild with our juniors and other players," he said.
"And I can assure you our boys aren't on any more money than many players down here (Clarence Valley). They want to play with the club and help towards winning the club championship.
"I believe the standard in all three grades in this competition is better than we played in last year.
"We're yet to play the better southern sides like Marist Brothers, South Grafton and Ballina but I expect them to be competitive."
McCarthy added yesterday's win was "very pleasing.
"We lacked intensity in the second half last week but today was better. When we were well in front they could have just said we'll cruise home but they got the job done."
Rangy prop Reece Vincent and power running second rower Scott Gray, both Northern Rivers representative players, had outstanding games. Creative five-eighth Paul Rolls wasn't far behind.
There were three sin bins during the match. Seagulls Matt Cartwright for a professional foul on Phil Warby in the 28th minute and Ghosts captain Matt Michael and rival Vincent for fighting in the 48th minute.
For the Ghosts centre Warby had a fine game in attack and defence, Dickson was again creative, but needs to get more involved, Jason Vidler worked hard, Michael continually took the ball up with gusto and injured Sean Davison never stopped trying.