'Terrible? Redmen hold on for vital win
By Dave Morrison
The Grafton Redmen withstood a committed Wollongbar challenge to secure a vital, 26-20 win over the Pioneers at Wollongbar on Saturday, crucially picking up a bonus point for their four-try effort.
Despite a poor first half, and an opening 20 minutes that coach Gary Powell described as 'terrible', Grafton had too much firepower to win in relatively convincing fashion.
Running with a strong wind at first, Grafton hampered their cause early with some poor handling and poor defence, missing a number of one on one tackles and missing three or four try-scoring opportunities.
Impatience was probably the key and the cause of perhaps four threatening rolling mauls counting for nothing in the early exchanges.
However, as they settled into the game, Grafton took control with three first-half tries to Justin Spurway, Sam Gerrard and Robbie Brown.
Despite this, their lead at the break, of 19-12, looked a little shaky as they had to face the blustery wind in the second stanza.
A field goal narrowed the gap soon after the break to just four points and it was game on.
Grafton replied when it mattered most, their defence out wide nullifying Wollongbar's attempts to spread the ball.
Spurway's second try effectively sealed the result at 26-15.
A late Wollongbar try when the game was all over gave them a bonus point and made the scoreline close, but it was a deserved result for the Redmen that keeps their semi-final hopes alive.
Number eight Robbie Brown had a blinder and was best on the field, doing a mountain in defence in the absence of the workaholic Tim Landrigan, and in the thick of things in the battles up front.
Lock Mark Robinson continued his fine season with a fine all round performance and five-eighth Jon Chevalley cleaned up everything around the edges.
Fullback Spurway was dangerous and fully deserved his double.