Grafton Redmen silence critics with 40-17 romp
RUGBY UNION: McKimms Grafton Redmen silenced their critics on Saturday with a 40-17 romp over a shell-shocked Port Pirates side in the opening round of the Mid North Coast rugby competition.
In a blistering start Grafton raced to a 24-0 halftime lead before putting the cue in the rack after the break.
Pirates mounted a stirring comeback mid-way through the second half with three unanswered tries to reawaken the contest.
However, in front of a parochial home crowd, Grafton came to life in the final 15 minutes to storm home to put the result beyond doubt.
Grafton unearthed a host of new players for their first game of the season and they didn't disappoint.
Number eight Kevin Weeks played himself to a standstill while flanker Luke Morgan-Doherty proved he's first grade material with his high work-rate around the paddock.
Redmen captain and five-eighth Kyle Hancock was again up to his eyeballs in everything that looked dangerous, laying on three tries and crossing twice more himself.
Hancock's instinctive combination with scrumhalf Dom Bullock was a delight to watch, while centre Luke Butler and fullback Ben Stone were a constant threat out wide.
You could see the grin slowly but surely coming back to the face of Redmen coach Ray Collie after his side's demolition job on their more fancied opponents.
"It was obviously better than I expected. If we can perform like that after two training runs we should hopefully be set for the season," Collie said after the game.
"Our first half was our best and I thought the new blood in the team like Weeksy (Kevin Weeks) and Luke Doherty were outstanding.
"I also thought Dom (Bullock) had a fantastic game and provided great service to the backs."
There was plenty to like about Grafton's first up showing against Pirates and according to Collie the return of speedster Ben Stone and powerhouse centre Luke Butler made all the difference out wide.
"It makes a huge difference when you've got finishers like Stony, Kyle and Butts (Luke Butler)," he said.
"We're trying to play what's in front of us and let the backs have more freedom in attack.
"Having pace on the edges and players who can finish off moves makes all the difference."
Newly appointed second grade coach Paul Cameron was ecstatic after his side put the cleaners through Pirates with a resounding 27-12 victory.
Flanker Ed McGrath was at his damaging best while veteran centre Robbie Campbell and scrumhalf Eric Djoeandy were the pick of the backs.
Grafton's next game is at home, against the Coffs Harbour Snappers on May 13.