Ghost juniors flying high in juniors
IS THIS the year?
The Grafton Ghosts Under-13s certainly hope so.
Thereabouts through the age groups every season since forming, the side's 36-10 thumping of Group One Junior Rugby League nemesis Casino on Saturday suggests they can go all the way in 2013.
They are undefeated in 2014 but they know from past experience that counts for little come finals time.
Sometimes one first needs to fail in order to succeed and this team is certainly motivated by that credo.
Last year they went through the regular season without loss but bowed out of the finals with back-to-back losses to Casino and Lennox Head.
This season they are on a mission to right that wrong and at the weekend they demonstrated they are on track with a commanding win against the side that has won the past two premierships.
"Today was the acid test," coach Brett Nay said after the match.
"Casino had only lost twice this season, to us and Lower Clarence, and they've been beating the other sides by 40 and 50.
"So this was a good yardstick for the boys to see where they're at.
"This might be the year."
After 12 games Ghosts have scored a remarkable 522 points and conceded just 75.
There are some special talents in the side and expect to read names like Ben Liyou, Hamish Ellem and Caleb Barker among several others in these pages frequently in the coming years.
Liyou provides direction and go-forward while Barker and Ellem terrorise the right and left flanks respectively. Both scored three tries in Saturday's win.
It was the first time Barker and Ellem had played in the same game.
"All the boys wanted to show our first game against them wasn't a fluke," hat-trick hero Barker said.
"Our determination was what won us the game. We really did not want to lose."
Today Barker and Liyou are on the bus to Sydney as two of the youngest members of the South Grafton High School Under-14s. They play Narrabeen Sports High in the quarter-finals in the statewide Buckley Shield knockout.
South will be buoyed by the return of Barker, who missed the most recent win over Armidale High due to injury.