GROUP 2: Minor premiers welcome well-earned week off
RUGBY LEAGUE: South Grafton Rebels have earned a reprieve for the weekend of the Group 2 Rugby League finals which kick off this weekend.
They easily clinched the minor premiership with their dominant 15-1 season record and earn a straight passage into the major semi-final at home in week two.
The week off could not come at a better time for the Rebels who endured a physical 28-18 victory over Bellingen-Dorrigo Magpies at McKittrick Park.
"Overall it is a good way to finish up the year with the win," Rebels president Ray Taunton said.
"The win probably was not as flashy as we would like it but that is probably what happens when first plays last who have nothing left to lose."
Taunton said the home side struggled to maintain possession at the start of the contest, giving coach Ron Gordon something to work on ahead of their finals campaign.
"We had an issue with completion rates, that is for sure. We probably pushed the pass a few times more than what we should," he said. "But that can happen when you are playing last place in the last round.
"It was a very physical game and the boys really stood up. They took the hits and gave it back to them.
"They will definitely be looking forward to having that week off."
Forward Josh Harris started in the front row for the first time this season after making his come back from a long term knee injury in the lower grades.
"It was good to be back in the starting side," Harris said. "I would say I am 100%, it is just a case of getting over a few niggling injuries. It was more of a mental thing to get back out there, but once I got on the field I was alright.
"It was good to be back amongst the boys and pulling my weight."
The Rebels will have a good chance to get a close up look at their major semi-final opponents during this Sunday's qualifying final at Frank McGuren Field and Taunton expects a few Rebels bodies to be in the crowd.
"I am sure the coach and the boys will be over there watching," he said. "But we will focus on our own game as Ronnie tends to do.
"It is a credit to Ronnie with the way he has run the side this season."