Lollback sizzles in final round slaughter
RUGBY LEAGUE: Despite an overhaul on the team sheet ahead of their clash with the Woolgoolga Seahorses, the Grafton Ghosts have proven they are going to be one tough team to beat heading into the Group 2 finals series.
The Ghosts' showed their talent pool depth against the visitors with regular First Grade players Todd Cameron, Nick Monckton and Jake Barnett all sidelined with injury.
The late withdrawal of Monckton, led to captain coach Ben McLennan shift from his favoured lock role into the number six jersey partnering Jake Frame in the halves for the first time.
Mitch Lollback was back to his best form, showing signs of his record breaking 2014 season in a hattrick showing against the Seahorses.
But it was his organisational work off the ball that impressed, with Lollback barking orders from the back field and marshalling his troops on the goalline.
McLennan said he was proud of the efforts his side showed against the Seahorses, and said it was the right platform for the Ghosts to launch their finals campaign.
"It was good, it was one thing we wanted to concentrate on going into finals on a high and we did that today," McLennan said.
"I thought (Woolgoolga) were one of the best sides we have played all year, they showed glimpses of what they can do at different stages, but our goal line defence was really strong.
"We were down on a few numbers with a few injuries, and the boys that stepped up did a great job for us. I am proud of the boys, it was a great effort."
Lethal left winger Mitch Gorman streaked his way back to the top of the Group 2 try-scorers list with a first half hattrick before he left the field in the early stages of the second half after reeling from a tackle attempt.
In a repeat of last year's finals series the Ghosts will face Coffs Harbour in the Qualifying Final, but this time around it will be at Frank McGuren Field and with a new look Grafton line-up.
"It is going to be a tough game no matter what," McLennan said. "We have formed a bit of a rivalry with Coffs Harbour over the years, and hopefully we get a few of our injured players back next week as well.
"Not taking away from the boys that stepped up today, but we have got a few good players to come back into the side and we are really looking forward to it.
"There is no way the team we had last year is anywhere near the calibre of team we have now, I know we have got a good side. We just need to play football for the full eighty minutes, and we will get the job done."
McLennan will just hope that Lollback can be at his sizzling best once again.
"He is a real freak, he is like the Jonathan Thurston of Grafton," the captain said. "He is the sort of player that everyone respects and listens to out on the field. He is something special in our team.
"It is looking like being my last year coaching and playing so I am really looking forward to going out on a high."