South Grafton Rebels make history in Group 2 decider
SOUTH Grafton have done it! They have carried the hopes and dreams of a town on their back and played a scintillating 80 minutes of football to take a 46-18 win over the Coffs Harbour Comets.
"This is the best feeling ever," victorious coach Dallas Waters said. "We have earnt this, we worked hard for this.
"Knowing this community, knowing our supporters. All through the season they supported us and we did this for them."
It was a match that had been built up over the past two weeks full of dreams, hopes and determination. The South Grafton Rebels had the hopes and dreams of a town on their back, while Coffs Harbour were in their third consecutive Grand Final looking for redemption after last year's extra time heartbreak to the Grafton Ghosts.
Both sides got off to disciplined starts with neither side willing to give an inch to their opposition. The hot conditions were testing for the bigger boys early on with both sets of forwards hitting the bench before halfway through the first half.
The Rebels were the first to trouble the scorers with star centre Hughie Stanley crossing the stripe after a great dummy from Mal Webster Jnr got the five-eighth through a half gap and over to the rampaging centre.
Coffs Harbour got back into the game against the run of play, scoring a length of the field runaway try off the kick return. A bad one on one effort from Rebels winger Tom McGrady let his opposite number Billy Griffiths take off before unloading to Shayde Perham to run under the sticks.
The Rebels were not going to take that lying down, with ingenuity from fullback Roy Bell taking the Comets on down the short side. A grubber kick found its way into open territory with Oral Monaghan touching down in the left corner.
Following another two tries - one to an Ian Leota barge over and an Ant Cowan kick recovery - the Rebels headed into oranges ahead of their opposition 24-6.
Coffs Harbour were quick out of the blocks after the break with centre Shayde Perham picking up a double off a short side chip and chase. A Nathan Curry conversion drew the Comets closer and gave the visiting side a sniff at the Premiership trophy.
Any sniff that they did have was quickly extinguished after Rebels halfback Cowan made his own magic, chasing through his own grubber to touch down next to the upright.
The rest of the Rebels side lifted with their halfback hitting a sixth gear and began making large in-roads into the Comets line.
Hughie Stanley touched down for his double in the right corner after a quick shift saw the ball travel through five sets of hands before hitting the centre on the touchline.
Coffs Harbour fullback Josh Clift got a consolation try for the visitors before Rebels centre pairing Oral Monaghan and Chris Carr got across the stripe to seal the deal for the boys in red and white.
The South Grafton Rebels broke a 40-year drought to secure the Premiership.