DEX SPORT IN REVIEW: April showcases sport talent
HOCKEY: Village Green City Bears looked to be on shaky legs as they started their Grafton Men's Premier League title defence back in April.
With Bears down on troops for the opening rounds captain Michael Russ said it would be be a slow start to the season.
They lost the services of veteran striker Mark Pollock after he scored a double in the grand final last season and also lost goalkeeper Aidan Cameron, who headed overseas.
While they might have started slower than expected, the season would soon turn around for Russ' men.
RUGBY LEAGUE: The last time Clint Greenshields walked onto a rugby league field in Australia, he in a North Queensland Cowboys jersey, flanked by Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.
But in April he made his return to the playing field in a Grafton Ghosts' jersey and the French representative was champing at the bit to play.
It had been nearly two decades since Greenshields strapped on the boots in Group 2, and it was fitting he made his long-awaited return against his junior football club - Sawtell Panthers
RACING: When former Grafton Cup winning jockey Blake Shinn burst through an inside lane on board Free Standing and put paid to the rest of the $400,000 Country Championships field it was a milestone moment for the Northern Rivers.
As a $31 outsider, it was a fairytale finish for trainer Cathleen Rode, who only has three horses in work at her Coffs Harbour stables.
But not only that, it was a fairytale finish for this sports editor.
As a result of Free Standing's unbelievable two-and-a-half length win, The Daily Examiner also shut the gate on the TAB Editors Challenge, to win $5000 for chosen charity: Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
RUGBY LEAGUE: Group 2 officials sent a clear message to players and spectators that they wanted a safe and friendly environment at all games following the two-year suspension of Nambucca Heads Roosters player Jay Melrose.
Melrose pleaded guilty to one count of player misconduct and was found guilty of breaching the national code of conduct for rugby league in front of a special committee hearing in April.
The charges were a result of an "ugly incident” involving players and spectators after the conclusion of the first grade clash between Grafton Ghosts and the Roosters at Frank McGuren Field in round one.
RUGBY LEAGUE: It was gruelling, it was brutal, it was rugby league.
All the reasons we love a local derby were thrown into the melting pot at Frank McGuren Field as the raw emotion and spirit spilled out of the two bitter rivals.
As the clash wore on, the lack of match fitness for the South Grafton Rebels - after missing out on action against Woolgoolga Seahorses the week before - became evident, with the Ghosts running away in the second half to clinch a 42-6 victory and the Viv Hodge Memorial Trophy.
It was the Ghosts' prolific left edge which made the difference, as centre Dylan Collett scored a hat-trick and Mitch Gorman added two of his own.
BASKETBALL: The man who put Grafton basketball on the map has won a place in NSW Basketball's Hall of Fame.
Although he sported a bushy, white beard and refused to wear shoes, Bruce Leonard was a coach and administrator instrumental in putting Grafton basketball on the map.
Former Grafton Vikings captain Steve Smith said a passion for basketball put Bruce at the heart of the explosion of the sport in Australia in the 1980s and 90s.
HOCKEY: Clarence Valley hockey had plenty to be proud of as a group of emergent players put the Grafton Hockey Association on everybody's lips at the week-long Hockey Australia Under-15 National Championships.
Three members of the six-strong contingent returned to the region sporting new medals with Elliott Speed and Jake Lambeth clinching gold for NSW State and Grace Young's State side narrowly edging out fellow Graftonite Laura Harley, and the NSW Blues, for the bronze medal.
Meanwhile, Tyler Gaddes and Rhys Cropper finished fifth with the NSW Blues side in their first national titles in that age division.
SURFING: It was an all-Clarence assault on the Billabong Oz Grom Cup at Park Beach, Coffs Harbour as Angourie's Dakoda Walters maintained a sleek run of form to clinch glory in the 16-and-under event.
Meanwhile, Wooli's surfing queen Carly Shanahan overcame the odds to also clinch her 14-and-under final in the clean 2-3 foot swell.
Walters' younger brother, Harley, also made it into the finals, finishing fourth in the 12-and-under boys while Wooloweyah carver Joel Emery finished fourth in the 10-and-under boys.
AUSSIE RULES: The drought is over.
It took 644 days, but the Grafton Tigers senior side finally found winning form for the first time in almost two years.
After four quarters of gruelling action at Ellem Oval, the Tigers showed grit and desperation in the final quarter to hold on for a 83-79 win against the Port Macquarie Magpies.
While the clash went down to the wire, but a 25 point lead at three-quarter time proved just insurmountable for the visitors.
RUGBY UNION: McKimms Grafton Redmen silenced their critics in April with a 40-17 romp over a shell-shocked Port Pirates side in the opening round of the Mid North Coast rugby competition.
In a blistering start Grafton raced to a 24-0 halftime lead before putting the cue in the rack after the break.
Pirates mounted a stirring comeback mid-way through the second half with three unanswered tries to reawaken the contest.
But, in front of a home crowd, Grafton came to life in the final 15-minutes to storm home with three five-pointers to put the result beyond doubt.
CLARENCE VALLEY SPORTSPERSON OF THE MONTH
YAMBA multi-sport champion Celia Sullohern might have been a new face on the open triathlon circuit this year but she made a serious mark on the sport.
In only her third competitive triathlon Sullohern claimed the open crown at the BCU Coffs Olympic Triathlon and the NSW 20-25 age-group title, and then backed that up with a second place at the Kingscliff Olympic Triathlon.
But the biggest result of them all came at the end of the month when Sullohern won the Jetts Fitness Senior Sportsperson of the Month award.
Sullohern said the BCU Coffs Tri was her first time racing in the open age division and she had been simply aiming to get some experience racing in the event.
"The race felt really good, I was happy with my swim and on the bike I was working away,” she said.
"On the run I'm always a bit more confident but I didn't think I could catch the girls in front.”
Maclean High School rower Lachlan Maxwell produced a golden performance at the Combined High School Rowing Championships to clinch the Jetts Fitness Junior Sportsperson of the Month gong.
In the 2016 championships at Taree Maxwell won silver in the single scull.
While it was a great result, Maxwell was determined to do better and pushed hard at training earlier this year to improve his performance.
The hard worjk paid off in the 2017 event at Taree last month with Maxwell taking out the under- 15s single scull and teaming with Andre Kendall to win the double scull.