Keep on keeping on
IN a game loaded with illegalities and one which was a nightmare for referee Peter O'Connor, the Ghosts soaked up huge punishment to snatch a 20-18 win against Cudgen on Saturday night.
Down 18-14, and with time running out, Ghosts second-rower Adam Elliott crossed for the decisive try after Cudgen coughed up the ball 20 metres out from their own try line.
Second-string goal kicker Daniel Lollback made no mistake with the conversion to keep the Ghosts' winning record intact.
The game was worthy of a grand final with bruising defence, several heated exchanges and well-orchestrated tries.
The pivotal point in the game came when Cudgen front-rower Dan Donovan was given his marching orders in the 12th minute for allegedly lashing out at Ghosts' Aaron Hartmann at the play-the-ball.
O'Connor made what appeared a hasty decision when he sent the big forward off for what appeared to be an innocuous push to the face.
With tempers at boiling point, another dust-up five minutes from the break saw Ghosts' Khan Williams and Hornets' captain Craig Field given 10 minutes in the sin bin.
Earlier, Cudgen were at fever pitch and drew first blood when danger man Shannon Murphy split the Ghosts up the middle. Field slotted the steeden between the uprights to give his side a 6-0 lead.
The home side were intent on spreading the ball but came up with too many unforced errors as the Hornets defence continued to rattle the Ghosts.
Several unsavoury incidents continued to take centre stage as both sides forgot about playing footy.
Ghosts did however manage to put points on the board on the stoke of half-time when centre Aaron Taylor crashed over in the corner.
Down to 11 players, the Hornets were quickly exposed out wide seconds after the interval when Taylor scored up his second four-pointer with a scintillating 50-metre sprint to the line.
The Ghosts led 8-6 but quickly surrendered their narrow lead when Murphy leaped above the pack to score a brilliant individual try.
Field added the extras and the Ghosts were looking down the barrel of their first defeat in 18 months.
But just when the Ghosts needed something special, halfback and captain Ryan Farrell bamboozled the Hornets defence with a superb show-and-go before linking up with a rampaging Oliver Percy.
Taylor kicked the conversion and the Ghosts were once again in front on the scoreboard.
Field responded with some of his own magic when he threaded the ball through a tiring Ghosts' defence and Murphy was again on the spot to out-pace the defence for his third four-pointer.
Field slotted the ball over from the sideline for an 18-14 lead with 10 to go.
On the back of a series of late penalties something had to give. With sustained pressure from the Ghosts it proved too much for a weary Hornets side as Elliott waltzed through the Hornets defence for the match-winner.
Ghosts coach Col Speed admitted his side were guilty of too many unforced errors but added he was pleased in the way his side stuck to the task.
“I think we were in the habit of trying to score off every set of six,” Speed said. “We needed to show more patience and slowly build pressure.
I dare say we are missing a few experienced players but I suppose we still know how to get a win.”
Speed said he was also impressed with the Hornets' game.
“I thought they had a very good structure and Field's kicking game was unbelievable,” he said.