Worth the wait
By DAVE MORRISON
THE Grafton Redmen's forward power ground down a determined Yamba Buccaneers outfit in an arm-wrestle of a local derby at Rugby Park South Grafton on Saturday.
The hard, no-quarter-given, encounter between the Redmen and the Buccaneers lived up to all the promise with the Redmen's superior firepower up front giving them the edge to win 16-6.
It was a dour struggle, with both backlines generally cancelling themselves out with tough defensive patterns that were rarely breached, Grafton eventually grinding out a win over a tenacious Yamba side that showed that they fully deserve their place in the top grade.
There was little in the first half, each side having their moments but unable to gain the upper hand.
Penalties were traded in the opening 20 minutes, with another to Yamba giving them a 6-3 lead at the break.
At this stage, the game was there for whoever could step up a notch and take the game.
From the restart, it was Grafton who proved capable of doing just that, primarily through their big forward pack.
A rolling maul just minutes after the break saw them over the line, but unable to successfully ground the ball.
However, that was a sign of things to come.
Another maul rolled all the way from the Yamba quarter line to see hooker Scott Forwell earn a decisive five pointer.
It wasn't pretty, but was one for the purists.
From, here, Grafton seemed to be getting well on top.
Over the line again out wide, but called back for a forward pass, set the scene for another successful rolling maul from 15 metres, to establish a match winning 13-6 lead midway through the half.
This was extended soon thereafter with a Tim Landrigan penalty.
Yamba was finding it terribly difficult to counter Grafton grinding play forward up the middle, and as a consequence, committed many errors at the breakdown.
To their credit, the Buccaneers never gave up and kept putting to Grafton right to the end.
They put plenty of pressure on the Grafton defence over the final ten minutes and came home strongly.
Despite a number of close calls, the Redmen defence held firm to deny a gallant Yamba a try that would have got them right back into the contest.
Grafton were best served by lock, Al Donaghy, number eight Rob Brown and props Dan Hayne and Dave Hales.
For Yamba, fullback Adrian Miller was always dangerous and inventive, especially on the counter attack, and number eight Mitch McLennan went forward all day behind a shaded pack.
The Redmen used their get out of jail card to snatch a 22-20 win over Mullumbimby, a converted try with the last play of the game giving them a welcome bonus point win, one which the fairest judges would consider a little undeserved.
Lee Green, on debut for the Redmen, Matt Runge and Tony White stood out.
In thirds, Grafton had a solid 12-5 over Mullumbimby while in the Under 19s, a young Grafton side found a hot Lennox Head side too much, going down 52-5.
To their credit, Grafton fought back well from an opening twenty minutes when they were overawed by a well drilled visiting side that scored at will.