INSPIRATIONAL: South Grafton Rebels back rower Dan Randall looks to make a break through the Macksville Sea Eagles   at McKittrick Park yesterday.
INSPIRATIONAL: South Grafton Rebels back rower Dan Randall looks to make a break through the Macksville Sea Eagles at McKittrick Park yesterday. Jarrard Potter

GROUP 2: Rebels downed in tight finish against Sea Eagles

RUGBY LEAGUE: Trailing for the entire game, the South Grafton Rebels came within two points of pulling off a last-ditch come-from-behind win at home against the Macksville Sea Eagles.

In a tight armwrestle, the Rebels looked to finish the game with a wet sail, but there weren't enough minutes left on the clock, as the Rebels suffered their first loss of the 2019 season in front of a disappointed McKittrick Park home crowd.

Macksville broke through the Rebels' defence to open the scoring through their halfback Jai Whaddy, who danced his way through some tiring defenders to score just beside the uprights. Winger Jack Ireland added the extras to take the lead out to 6-0 after 27 minutes.

South Grafton took an opportunity to turn defence into attack and with five minutes left on the clock centre Nick McGrady almost managed to force his way to the line, but the ball was knocked out of his hands only to find his winger Kieron Johnson-Heron, who opened the Rebels' scoring. The kick out wide from McGrady was unsuccessful to leave the Rebels trailing by two points.

Macksville were quick to hit back through a linebreak to Ireland, who nearly went the length of the field to score the away team's second try of the afternoon. Ireland slotted his conversion attempt, taking the score 12-4 at half-time.

However it wasn't long before the Rebels crossed the line to open their scoring for the second half when centre Andrew Kapeen latched onto an intercept to cross the line untouched. The kick from McGrady was successful, and took the Rebels within two points of the lead.

Macksville hit back soon after when Ireland finished off some second-phase play to extend their lead to six points. Ireland's conversion was pushed wide, leaving the score 16-10 ten minutes into the second half.

Sea Eagles winger Michael Tyerman soon came up with an intercept of his own to help push his side deep into Rebels territory, and in the same set James Weimer crashed over beside the posts. Ireland added the extras to take the Sea Eagles further ahead to 22-10.

The Rebels needed to be the next to score, and with 15 minutes left on the clock Johnson-Heron finished off a sweeping backline movement to score in the corner. The kick at goal was unsuccessful.

With the minutes ticking away the Rebels struggled to find a way through the Sea Eagles' defence, and after a number of sets on the Macksville line it was five-eighth Hughie Stanley who bustled his way through four tacklers to slam the ball over the line. The conversion from McGrady put the Rebels two points behind with three minutes left on the clock.

However the clock ticked down before the Rebels could find any more points, with Macksville taking out a 22-20 win.

FULL TIME: MACKSVILLE SEA EAGLES 22 (Ireland 2, Whaddy, Weimer tries, Ireland 3 goals) def SOUTH GRAFTON REBELS 20 (Johnson-Heron 2, Kapeen, Stanley tries, McGrady 2 goals).



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