Clinical Ghosts charge toward finals
RUGBY LEAGUE: In his club record-breaking game, Grafton Ghosts forward Ben McLennan proved just why he had played 168 first grade games, leading from the front in a dominant afternoon at Frank McGuren Field.
McLennan was unstoppable with the ball in hand and even better on the defensive end as the Ghosts ran out 68-6 winners at Frank McGuren Field.
It could not have started any better for the home side, with the Ghosts registering points in the opening two minutes of the game.
Carson Galloway scored the first try of the afternoon after strike centre Dylan Collett offloaded to the fullback on the line.
But Galloway would be soon to return the favour for his centre after the winger cleanly caught a Matt Muller crossfield kick before squeezing the ball out the back to his centre to struggle his way into the in-goal.
The Ghosts would complete their explosive start to the first half with a third try in the opening 10 minutes of the game, this time to halfback Jake Frame.
After bursting into the back field from his own half, Frame beat Macksville fullback Andrew Blair with a double-pump dummy before streaking away to score under the posts.
If it was a dream start for the home side, it looked like it was about to turn into a nightmare after milestone man Ben McLennan dropped the ball on the ensuing kick-off.
Macksville struggled to find their way through the Ghosts' defensive line, lacking a bit of attacking direction, but they would not need to after winger Michael Tyerman snatched an intercept out of thin air as the Ghosts got out of trouble.
Tyerman would go on to score untouched, to bring Macksville back within striking distance.
They looked a chance to double their score in quick succession after the Ghosts committed a cardinal sin of putting the ball out on the full off the kick-off.
But it was the Ghosts' defence, led in the middle by McLennan and Adam Slater, that would aim up and keep the Macksville side out.
Cooper Woods would get his name on the scoreboard late in the first half after a backline spread from the Ghosts caught the Sea Eagles at sixes-and-sevens on the right edge.
Jake Frame had a try-scoring double by the end of the first half, as rampaging junior Ben Liyou broke free of a few weak arms before finding his halfback in support in the shadows of the half-time siren.
Michael Curnow scored a solo effort, cut back through in behind the marker defence, broke through a couple of would-be tackles, and scored under the posts.
Matt Muller would soon extend the Ghosts lead after a deft piece of lead-up play from Jake Frame put the second-rower under the posts untouched.
Macksville attempted to slow down the Ghosts' roll through the middle, and were getting back on top of their opposition before a lapse in attack cost the visitors dearly.
A floating long ball across the face of two attackers, would fall into the wrong hands as Jake Frame snatched it out of mid-air to race away and cap off the afternoon with an individual hat-trick.
The conversion from Ghosts' 'Mr Reliable' Todd Cameron brought up the half-century for the home side, but they were not finished there.
Curnow and Galloway would bring up their own try-scoring doubles in quick succession after benefitting from classy lead-up passes from Cameron and Frame respectively.
In the dying moments, Jay Olsen would cap off a fine afternoon for the Ghosts, after a piece of Blake Winmill magic opened up the Macksville defence from within his own half.
In a fitting final moment, in his record-breaking match McLennan, piloted the final points over the posts, delivering a dominant win to the Ghosts.
SCORELINE: GRAFTON GHOSTS 68 (Jake Frame 3, Carson Galloway 2, Michael Curnow 2, Matt Muller 2, Dylan Collett, Cooper Woods, Jay Olsen tries; Todd Cameron 9 goals) def MACKSVILLE SEA EAGLES 6 (Michael Tyerman try, Andrew Blair goal)