UPDATE: Despite a lopsided 12-4 penalty count against them, the South Grafton Rebels lifted with the spirit of their community to lift the Group 2 reserve grade trophy. 

  In a back and forth contest with the season's minor premiers Macksville Sea Eagles, the Rebels prevailed at the death 28-24.    Macksville started the clash on the attack making easy metres up through the guts of the Rebels defence. It did not take long for the dominant side of the regular season to draw blood, scoring on the opening set.    Secondrower Kade Spear drove his way between three defenders to score his first try of the afternoon and it looked like it was battle stations for the home side.    But as would prove to be the case throughout the remainder of the contest, it was back and forth action and it did not take long before the Rebels were back on the scoreboard.    Luke Roberts, fresh onto the field off the bench, crashed across in the corner after a good set play put the ball through hands.    With both sides locked in an intense battle of the forwards on the field it was tit for tat play as both sides stretched their scores with a try apiece.   Heading into the second half both sides were evenly matched but the Rebels had a secret weapon hidden around the field in red and white jerseys.    As the crowd continued to bay for Sea Eagles blood the Rebels on field obeyed and stepped up their efforts.    Rebels bulldozers Jeff Skeen and Austin Cooper continued to run with a full head of steam despite the heat on ground level.   Rebels captain Mick Watkins praised his men on the field for finding an extra reserve when it seemed there was not any more they could give.    "It does not get any better than that," Watkins said. "What a day, the boys they just kept standing up.    "I have got to thank all the crowd and all of our supporters and the club, my wife and family - what a day.   "We all just stick together, we all just kept turning up for each other out there. When we played the final round game against these fellas and we beat them, we knew anything was possible."    When Cooper got the ball 10 metres out on the sideline and with the Rebels trailing by two points, the forward put his head down and charged.    It was a tough task for the winger opposite to stop the rolling freight train and with the try the Rebels charged to the lead for the first time.    A following try for Brian Quinlan put the result out of doubt as the parochial South Grafton crowd charged onto the playing field to celebrate with their reserve grade heroes.    "There was no standout today, everybody stood up and got us here," Watkins said.   

EARLIER 12:30: Sawtell Panthers have maintained their undefeated record in the Group 2 Under 18s competition this season with a dominant 38-16 victory in the grand final. 

Nambucca Heads Roosters threw all they had at the Panthers but it was not enough with the Panthers running in seven tries to three. 

Panthers' fullback Jack Conlan continued a stellar run of form this season and set up at least three of the Sawtell sides four-pointers but missed out on getting his own name on the scoreboard. 

Clinching the Under 18s premiership was a relief for the Sawtell players who have missed out in the decider two years in a row including last year's shock upset to Coffs Harbour Comets in extra time. 

"It is such a relief," Conlan said. "After last year's bugger up in extra time, it was such a great experience to come back with the boys this year and make it to this. We wanted it more, we were so much more hungry.

"I think being undefeated all year is a pretty average position to be in because you have got it all tom lose. We did not get complacent, we kept going hard and it was just good to see us all give for each other."

Conlan received the award for Under 18s Best and Fairest of the season after the match during the trophy presentation. 

Sawtell Panthers' fullback Jack Conlan in action during the Under 18s grand final at McKittrick Park.
Sawtell Panthers' fullback Jack Conlan in action during the Under 18s grand final at McKittrick Park. Matthew Elkerton

11.30AM: With the Under 18s having taken the field at McKittrick Park a strong crowd has already flowed in through the gates. 

It has been enthralling action in the Under 18s with Nambucca Heads Roosters fighting for every metre against a stronger Sawtell Panthers pack. 

There is a sea of red and white across the home crowd, with balloons, streamers and banners attached to every possible part of McKittrick Park. 

But there is a handy tinge of blue and white also spreading across the crowd as the first grade clash draws nearer. 

COVID-19: Updated condition of local hospitalised couple

Premium Content COVID-19: Updated condition of local hospitalised couple

Couple linked to church cluster as testing reaches highest point

It’s time to call for a National ‘National Day’ Day

Premium Content It’s time to call for a National ‘National Day’ Day

We’re sure you do a pretty good job, while alas, as in any industry, others - not...

LIVE RUGBY: Harbour Knights v Armidale Barbarians

Premium Content LIVE RUGBY: Harbour Knights v Armidale Barbarians

Can Coffs’ newest rugby side continue their winning ways? Watch the match right...