Finals for all three grades
A HISTORIC day for the Grafton Ghosts at Frank McGuren Field yesterday will see all three grades progress to the grand finals of the NRRRL at Murwillumbah next Sunday.
In front of a parochial home crowd, the three Ghosts teams put in very different performances, but all were on the right side of the scoreboard when the final sirens sounded.
First-grade captain/coach Ryan Farrell wasn't overly happy with his team's scrappy performance, but was happy to take the 26-20 win over the Ballina Seagulls.
"A win's a win and I'll happily take that," Farrell said.
"It wasn't the best performance we've put in by any stretch."
The Ghosts opened the scoring in just the second minute of the game, when Ryan Danvers slotted a penalty to take a 2-0 lead.
Ballina took control of the game and got out to a 10-2 lead by the 16th minute following tries to Kane Montgomery and Luke Simpson.
Grafton hit right back, controlling the rest of the half and taking an 18-10 lead into the break.
Thirteen minutes into the second term, plucky hooker Rhys Walters wrong-footed the defence and sliced through for a four-pointer of his own.
Danvers converted three of the tries for a 24-10 lead.
Underlying tensions erupted after a Ghost was dropped on his head, and an all-in brawl broke out in front of the home fans.
Seagull Dan Gibson and Ghost Dan Lollback were sent to the sin bin for their involvement in the fight, and it was Ballina who stepped up another gear.
Then, in three minutes, Ballina doubled their score with two spectacular length-of-the-field tries.
They threatened to roll on after nailing a 40/20 kick immediately after the restart, but the Ghosts defence muscled up and forced them into touch.
A Danvers penalty nine minutes from full-time put the Ghosts six clear, and Ballina couldn't come up with an answer.
Farrell praised his side's defensive effort.
"The effort was definitely there but we had to defend our way to victory," he said. "We've got the team to do anything and now it's down to just one game."
In reserve grade, the Ghosts easily accounted for Murwillumbah Mustangs 50-16, while the under-18s accounted for Marist Brothers 22-12.
Ghosts 26 def Ballina 20
Ghosts 50 def Mustangs 16
Ghosts 22 def Marist Bros 12.