GROUP 2: Grafton Ghosts open season in dominant fashion
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Grafton Ghosts have begun their 2019 Group 2 season with a dominant 46-6 win over the Orara Valley Axemen to the delight of the large crowd that packed into Frank McGuren Field for the season opener.
After a tight arm-wrestle early, which saw penalties and poor ball control rob any team of momentum, it was Grafton centre Dylan Collett who snatched the ball off his opposite number following a deft grubber kick to score the home side's first try. Hooker Todd Cameron added the extras to take the lead out to 6-0.
Collett backed up his first try with a second to take their lead out further when he broke through two attempted Orara defenders to cross the line. Cameron's reliable boot added the extras to take the lead out to 12-0.
The Axemen were their own worst enemy during the opening stanza, with unforced errors and penalties gifting the Ghosts easy possession and field position.
A penalty for an incorrect play-the-ball 30m out from the Axemen's own line gave the Ghosts another chance at extending their lead, and the Axemen's woe was compounded by conceding another penalty for a high shot.
The Ghosts made the Axemen pay when three tackles later when Brett Wicks barged his way over close to the line, which was converted by Cameron to take the lead to 18-0, which is where the score remained at the end of the first half.
Collett picked up where he left off in the second half when he scored his third try for the game. Cameron again converted the try, and the Ghosts pushed their lead out further to 24-0.
Minutes later the Ghosts were across the line again when Cameron pushed his way through tiring Axemen defenders. Converting his own try, Cameron sent the lead out to 30-0.
The Ghosts continued to turn the screws on their opponents, forcing second-phase play and punching holes through the defence. The lead was extended further when halfback Brad Billsborough found an offload to Collett, who broke clear and found winger Mitchell Gorman, who crossed in the corner for his first try of the 2019 season.
Collett added to his try tally for the afternoon when he took advantage of some scattered defence to score his fourth try.After missing the last kick at conversion, Cameron didn't make it two in a row when he converted the Collett try.
Gorman went back-to-back when he finished off a sweeping backline movement to break into the outfield and scored for the second time. Another Cameron conversion saw the lead reach 46-0.
On the stroke of fulltime, Orara Valley fullback Liam Dunn scored his side's only try and converted.
SCOREBOARD: GRAFTON GHOSTS 46 (Collett 4, Gorman 2, Wicks, Cameron tries; Cameron goals) def ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN (Dunn try; Dunn conversion).