Ghosts put tragedy behind to win
WHEN the Grafton Ghosts arrived at Frank McGuren Park yesterday they were greeted with distressing news.
Two former Ghosts junior players, Nathan Chapman and Kyle Clifford were tragically killed in a car accident in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Ghosts ended up winning the game against Ballina in the final of the pre-season Charity Shield convincingly 40-10, but had to dig deep as a team and try and put the tragedy behind them.
Ghosts coach Col Speed although pleased with the result was obviously saddened by the news which has rocked the club.
“A lot of people don’t see what goes on behind the scenes,” he said.
“We had five players out due to the unfortunate circumstances...some guys react differently. Some players deal with it by wanting to get out on the field and play and others don’t.”
Ghosts captain Ryan Farrell, who was arguably the best player on the field, said he only heard of the heart-breaking news when he arrived at the ground.
“Most of the guys found out this morning and were pretty close to Nathan and Kyle,” Farrell said.
The game itself never reached any great heights although the Ghosts second-half performance was full of guts and determination.
Ballina’s ability to up the tempo in the first half through their line speed in defence forced the Ghosts to commit too many unforced errors although the Ghosts went to the break up 14-6.
Speed was full of praise for they way the Seagulls held their defensive line during the first stanza.
“I thought they (Ballina) dominated us in the first half with their defence but it was pleasing to see the guys stick together in the second half particularly with the tragedy that happened,” he said.
The Ghosts ran riot after the break, making inroads on the edges of the Seagulls defence.
Ghosts’ big name players Aaron Hartmann, Anthony Don and Ryan Farrell caused headaches for the opposition defence as did winger Aaron Taylor who picked up a hat-trick of tries.
Farrell topped off a sensational game scoring a brilliant individual try under the posts leaving four defenders clutching at thin air.
With a reshuffled bench Speed looked to first grade debutante Darren Phillipson to step up and that’s exactly what he did.
“I must make special mention of Darren. The kid’s lost 15 kilos in the last two years and today he had the opportunity to come off the bench in A-grade,” Speed said.
“It’s special to see him progress the way he has and he was great out their today.”
The Ghosts’ under-18 side showed plenty of tenacity disposing of Murwillumbah 24-16 with only 12 players to take out the final.
In the play-off for third position Cudgen narrowly defeated a gallant Lower Clarence Magpies side 15-12 in a gripping contest which had fans on the edge of their seats.