Redmen back on track
THE Grafton Redmen got their Far North Coast season back on track with a stirring 32-26 victory against Wollongbar-Alstonville on Saturday.
With five-eighth Huan Collie pulling the strings behind an intimidating forward pack the Redmen ran in four tries as their classy backs took advantage of a glutton of possession.
The fly-half laid on two first-half tries and appears to have found a home in the number 10 jumper.
“The boys played well and I think Huan Collie was very strong at number 10,” a relieved Redmen captain Brad Lloyd said after the match.
“He hit Dukey (Dwayne Duke), Muz (Murray Brooks) and my brother Scott with some lovely balls to put them in the gap.
“Huan’s always been a five-eighth. It’s just getting more confidence and talk in the top grade which will help his game.
“Johnny Morgan was unavailable and Huan deserved his crack at first grade and didn’t let us down.”
From the outset the Pioneers appeared to suffer from stage fright as the home side dominated the early exchanges. And it wasn’t long before fullback Murray Brooks stamped his authority on the game.
Brooks left several Pioneers defenders grasping at air before off-loading to Scott Lloyd to score next to the uprights. Collie made no mistake with the conversion to give his side an early 7-0 lead.
Minutes later Brooks was at it again when he burst through a hole the size of Sydney Heads to put the Redmen further in front, 12-0.
With the Redmen dominating the breakdown Collie slotted a penalty goal before the visitors hit back with two converted tries 10 minutes out from the break.
But their revival was short-lived when Redmen replacement centre Dwayne Duke strolled through a gaping hole after another Collie gem to give the home side a 22-14 lead at the interval.
A Brooks dart down the short side minutes after the break caught the Wollongbar defence napping and, with winger Billy Hickson backing up on the inside, the Redmen skipped further ahead 29-14.
Frustration began to creep into the visitors’ game and just when things couldn’t get any worse they lost two players to the sin bin after tempers flared in front of a parochial home crowd.
Collie – who was also caught up in the melee – received a yellow card for his involvement in the heated exchange.
With Collie off the field the Redmen received a penalty for yet another Pioneers infringement and centre Chris Adamson calmly slotted the ball over the black dot.
A consolation five-pointer before the full-time siren saw the visitors get within striking distance, but in the end the 32-26 scoreline flattered the inexperienced Pioneers outfit.
Relieved to finally get a win under their belt Redmen captain Brad Lloyd said a big part of his side’s sudden return to form was players believing in themselves.
“I suppose it was just self belief. We wanted it more than them,” he said.
“The intensity was there this week and I’m sure if we played like that in our last game against Casino we would have won.
“There is still fourth spot up for grabs.
Lismore and Lennox Head will be up there, but after what I saw of Ballina they are very beatable.
“We have two hard games coming up after the bye, Lismore and Lennox, but its 15-on-15 so we’ll see what happens.”