IT STARTED "like a house on fire" for South Grafton Rebels.

But the current Group 2 Rugby League competition leaders had to dig deep to defend their lead.

The Rebels led 22-16 at the break and the second half was an arm wrestle. Ghosts threw one last barrage of attack in the closing stages and there was a collective sigh of relief among Rebels fans when Matt Muller missed a sideline conversion that would have brought the margin back to six.

"We started off like a house on fire to get away to a 16-nil lead," South Grafton coach Dallas Waters said.

"Our forwards paved the way. Without those guys up front the backs out wide aren't going to score points.

"But Ghosts are a quality side and once they got a bit of quality ball and spent some time in our red zone they scored some tries.

REBELS CLICK: Mal Webster is congratulated by team-mates after scoring a try during the Tooheys New Group 2 Rugby League first grade match between Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels at Frank McGuren Park on Sunday.
REBELS CLICK: Mal Webster is congratulated by team-mates after scoring a try during the Tooheys New Group 2 Rugby League first grade match between Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels at Frank McGuren Park on Sunday. Debrah Novak

"It comes back to our defence at the end there. We had 12 men for the last six minutes. For us to show character and defend that line like we did will hold us in good stead leading into the second round."

Grafton had its share of opportunities, but was guilty of excessive handling errors.

"We dropped a lot of ball and it's just killing us at the moment," Ghosts captain-coach Ben McLennan said.

"If we complete our sets we'll go a long way to winning a lot of games.

"But it was an awesome crowd and it's good to see both teams going good again. I'm really happy for the Rebels, they're going well and have a really good bunch of boys there."



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