Redmen in finals hunt
THE Grafton Redmen gave their Far North Coast Rugby Union first-grade finals hopes a boost on Saturday with a hard-fought 27-19 victory over Ballina at Grafton Rugby Park.
The Redmen scored four tries to three to claim a crucial victory against the fourth-placed side with three rounds left until the finals.
Victory for the fifth-placed Redmen has ensured that if they win their remaining games and Ballina lose all three, Grafton will sneak into the finals in fourth.
With a favourable draw for the remaining rounds, Redmen captain Brad Lloyd was optimistic about his sides' chances of playing finals football.
"The draw is pretty good, we have a bye, then play Southern Cross Uni who we have beaten twice this year, and Lismore who we have been very competitive against, but we aren't focusing on that as much as playing good rugby week to week," he said.
Good rugby was exactly what Grafton dished out to their finals rivals on Saturday despite fielding a team stacked with young players, many of whom had little first-grade experience.
"The younger guys really stood up for us out there," Lloyd said.
"Benny Lancaster started in the second row and Connor Vest got a try, and Tom Tanner really ripped in coming off the bench in the last 20, it was a great effort."
Lloyd was ambivalent about the need for other results to swing his way, insisting his side's focus is on what they can control and nothing else.
"We can't control what happens in other games, the best we can do is just go out and play good rugby and hope it all falls into place in the end," he said.
Grafton Redmen will continue their bid for a finals berth when they take on Yamba Buccaneers in the local derby at Grafton Rugby Park on Saturday.
The Buccaneers will be keen to avenge their loss to Grafton earlier in the season and coach Paul Rheinberger said his team has a point to prove coming off a 35-8 drubbing at the hands of Bangalow before the weekend bye.
"The boys always lift for a game against Grafton," he said.
"After what happened at Bangalow, they'll be wanting to rip in and play like the top side that they are."