Ghosts, Rhinos to meet again
AN old-fashioned stink, six players given their marching orders, but above all a pulsating game of rugby league.
Last year’s local derby between the Ghosts and Rhinos will go down in the history books as the day the men from south of the river ambushed their more-fancied opponents, winning a 40-36 thriller.
An all-in brawl erupted after only 14 minutes which turned the game in the Rhinos favour.
Local derby games are always played with undeniable passion and pride, and tomorrow’s blockbuster at Frank McGuren Park is likely to add another chapter to the fiery history between the two Grafton rivals.
Rhinos captain Xavier Sullivan was at his wrecking-ball best that day, and when he scored next to the uprights off a peach of a pass from Ben Woods the Rhinos’ bench punched the air in unison knowing they had pulled off a remarkable victory.
Sullivan will once again lead his men onto the paddock and said he is expecting another torrid affair against a side he considers to be a well-drilled professional outfit.
“The Ghosts are a very professional side and are strong right across the park, but I do see a weakness in their team – Khan Williams,” Sullivan said.
“We’ll certainly go out of our way to target him.
“He’s vulnerable and a bit hot-headed and has an inability to take criticism.”
In a move to take advan- tage of Williams’ perceived weakness under pressure, Sullivan has moved lock-forward and noted hard man Dwayne Duke into the centres to face-off against Williams.
On his day Williams is a difficult customer to contain with his speed, strength and ability to find the try line, but the question still remains according to Sullivan: Has he the mental toughness when things are not going his way?
“I’d prefer to play Dukey (Dwayne Duke) in the backrow but he is an experi- enced player and I want him out wide against Khan to hopefully expose his weaknesses,” Sullivan said.
Duke was one of six players sent off in the corresponding game last year, and his toe-to-toe dust-up with Ghosts enforcer Nat Sewell was certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Sullivan said he is not sure what the run-on side will be for the Ghosts tomorrow, but indicated his side will be up for the challenge.
“The guys are excited about the prospect of playing the Ghosts, and training went without a hitch on Thursday night,” he said.
“A few Ghosts players mouthed-off before the competition and started saying they will have no problems beating us this year.
“Hopefully some of those players will turn up on the day and back it up.”
The Ghosts have been in devastating form this season with comfortable wins against Evans Head and Cudgen, but Sullivan is banking on his side’s passion and underdog status to hopefully cause an upset.
“We’ll try and stick to our game plan and hopefully slow down their game speed.
“Ryan Farrell is the key to their success and we’ll have to ensure we give him less time and room in attack,” Sullivan said
“Apparently the Ghosts had a low error rate last week against Cudgen, and that’s what we need to do as well as stick to our structure.
“I know one thing...before we run out onto the field I’ll be telling the guys to play for each other and play from the heart.
“These games are always played with plenty of emotion and our guys will not be taking a backward step.”