Gang tackle: Ghosts backrow pair Adam Elliott (left) and Josh Donohoe jar the ball loose with a punishing hit.
Gang tackle: Ghosts backrow pair Adam Elliott (left) and Josh Donohoe jar the ball loose with a punishing hit. Grafton Daily Examiner

Ghosts defence too ugly for Seagulls

IT didn't come off the lips easily, but Grafton Ghosts coach Col Speed was tempted to describe his team's 26-6 win over Ballina yesterday as 'ugly'.

“I suppose some would say it was an ugly win,” Speed said in the Frank McGuren Field dressing sheds after the game.

Ugly maybe, but there was a lot to like about the win with next week's local derby against the Grafton Rhinos looming.

In particular, the rugged defence kept the Seagulls scoreless for 77 minutes after big prop Chris Coleman crashed over underneath the posts early in the game.

It was the only time Ballina was in the match as the Ghosts hit back with two first half tries; one a length-of-the-field intercept to centre Aaron Taylor and another in the right corner to fullback Khan Williams.

Apart from the scoring opportunities, the game was a scrappy affair with both sides continually turning the ball over.

There was plenty of aggression and niggle in both teams' defences and this exploded on the stroke of half-time in a melee that resulted in the sin-binning of Williams for the Ghosts and Paul O'Neill from the Seagulls.

The writing was on the wall for the visitors early in the second half when they failed to find touch from consecutive penalties.

A few minutes later Ghosts skipper Ryan Farrell slipped in behind the defence and made a 20-metre break.

From the play the ball, three passes sped the ball to the hands of lock Adam Elliott. His right-hand fend dealt with a would-be defender and he strolled over near the posts. Taylor converted to make it 16-6.

That play proved too much for referee Dave Honeybrook, who left the field with an injury and was replaced by Darrell Ward.

The next 15 minutes of play fitted in well with Speed's assessment of the game. Neither side treasured the ball and a sprinkling of penalties, mainly for offside infringements, ensured there was no continuity of play.

However, the Ghosts emerged from that period in the doldrums when Williams sprinted into a gap 25m out and touched down under the sticks.

And the Ghosts had the final say in the game when five-eighth Dan Roberts snatched an intercept and sprinted 75 metres to score in the right corner.

Speed's thoughts had already turned to next week and the Rhinos as he talked about the game after full-time.

“There was plenty of aggression and niggle in the defence, something that will be good for next week,” he said.

However, Speed believes there are a lot more points in the Ghosts' attack if the players can learn to be patient.

He was also a little disappointed with the team's discipline and will be working on that after he and the team look at a DVD of the game at training.

Ballina coach Brian Battese was philosophical about the defeat, acknowledging his side was beaten by a far superior outfit.

“They were far too good, they just ground us down,” he said.

“They're not the flashiest side around, but they don't make a lot of mistakes.”

Battese said his team was young, with only three players over 22 years of age, and they made the mistakes of a young team.

“For every two good things they do, they come up with a dumb play,” he said.

“You can't fault them for overall effort, but their dumb mistakes undo a lot of their good work.”


FIRST GRADE: GRAFTON GHOSTS 26 (K Williams 2, D Roberts, A Taylor, A Elliott tries; A Taylor 3 conversions) d BALLINA 6 (C Coleman try, J Freeman goal).

RESERVE GRADE: Ballina 24 (P Alley, K Montgomery, B Miles, T Iverson tries, B Miles 4 goals) d Grafton Ghosts 22 (L McKenna 2, D Lollback S Denshire, B Ellis tries. D Lollback goal).

UNDER-18s: Ballina 20 (F Pitts 2, D Sironen, J Breckenridge. One conversion) d Grafton Ghosts 18 (Sam Hartmann, Kyle Hancock 2, Steve Sampson, tries. One conversion)

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