IN FLIGHT: Lockie McLaughlin en route to the line for the Grafton Ghosts against the Clarence Coast Magpies.
IN FLIGHT: Lockie McLaughlin en route to the line for the Grafton Ghosts against the Clarence Coast Magpies. Mitchell Keenan

Ghosts halt Magpies' grand final run with solid win

JUNIOR RUGBY LEAGUE: The Grafton Ghosts and Clarence Coast Magpies under-13 side extended their long-running rivalry on Saturday with another thrilling battle in the Group 1 grand final that finished 24-16 in favour of the Ghosts.

The Magpies were playing in their fourth straight junior grand final and won at both under-11 and under-12 levels but the Ghosts brought their streak to a halt with a stunning team performance at Frank McGuren Field.

Grafton took an early lead when forward Caleb Killduff forced his way over the line to open the scoring and the home side extended their lead to 12 points not long afterwards.

Clarence Coast hit back with a try of their own through Anthony Hickling but the Ghosts added a third to take a strong lead into half time.

The Magpies started the second half well and found themselves back in the game through another try to Hickling but Grafton grabbed one last try to seal the victory.

Ghosts coach Paul Donovan was pleased with the group's performance in his first year at the helm.

"I'm very proud of my boys and the effort they've shown from the start of the year to now," Donovan said.

"I knew they could do it but it was about setting goals each week and achieving goals and we pretty much achieved everything we set out to do this year.

"We've got a good bunch of kids and there's a bright future for quite a few of them."

The Magpies dominance has been clear to see and Donovan was expecting they would make the finals again.

"It was no surprise that they'd be here again this time of year. We knew it was going to happen and we focused on them as our potential opponents. We had a few strategies coming in and they came off brilliantly," he said.

Donovan is eyeing a return to the position next year.

"I'll definitely coach again if they want me to but I'll leave it up to them," he said.



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