Redmen happy despite round 1 loss
THE GRAFTON Redmen may have failed to post any points on the board against Lismore on Saturday but their captain/coach Brett Graham was more than pleased with his side’s effort.
“In the end we went down 19-0 but there were plenty of positive signs and overall I was happy with the way the boys played,” Graham said.
Starved of possession and territory for the first half the Redmen defence held firm soaking up intense pressure from a Lismore side hell-bent on dominating the early exchanges.
“Our defence was certainly solid...I think they (Lismore) had at least 80 percent of the ball in the first half and we managed to keep the score at 0-0 at the break,” Graham said.
“They had the wind at their backs and continually had us pinned in our own 22.”
Graham added a lapse in concentration early in the second half cost his side any chance of posting their first win of the season.
A reshuffle of the backline proved a masterstroke by the Lismore coach who moved his inexperienced fly-half to inside centre replacing him with an experienced number 10.
“They just had a brief window for about 10 minutes in the second half and scored a couple of tries, but after that they never scored again,” Graham said.
“They changed the backline and put in an older five-eighth who organised their side better around the park.
“After they scored we tightened up our defence and probably should have scored points ourselves but we couldn’t convert pressure into points.”
Grafton’s new-look centre pairing of Brad Lloyd and Murray Brooks were solid in defence with Brooks having his first run in the top-grade after a year away.
“Murray was outstanding at outside centre. Along with Brad they made sure the Lismore outside backs were contained.” Graham said.
“Murray played juniors with the Redmen and has been at Uni so it’s great to have him back.”
Graham singled out breakaway Matt Wake as the side’s best forward on the day with his high work-rate in defence and his tireless effort at the breakdown.
Lismore are expected to be top-four material this season, and according to Graham will only get better.
“Lismore will get better as the season progresses. They will be up there again this season and last year’s premiers Lennox (Heads) will most likely be the side to beat,” he said.
The Redman face a tough task next weekend at home when they take on Ballina in four grades. Ballina sit top of the ladder after round 1 of the Coopers Far North Coast competition piling on 32 unanswered points against a depleted Southern Cross Uni side. Good news for the Redmen is they sustained no injuries from the clash.