Redmen miss out on home semi in thriller
RUGBY UNION: McKIMMS Grafton Redmen's hopes of clinching a home semi-final were dashed after they succumbed to a 24-all draw against SCU Marlins at Rugby Park South Grafton.
In a pulsating affair, Grafton scored a converted try right on full-time to snatch an unlikely draw, however Marlins' superior for and against record will see them host next week's minor semi-final against Grafton who finished fourth on the ladder.
An error-riddled Redmen side almost self-combusted in the first 20 minutes as the visitors ran in two unanswered tries.
The early momentum was clearly with the Marlins who were at fever pitch with the flair of their outside backs causing plenty of headaches for the home side's defence.
Redmen coach Ray Collie was far from happy with his side's control and execution in the first half.
"I've been coaching for three years and it's the worst 20 minutes I've seen our first-grade play,” Collie said after the game.
"We lacked a bit of application and we didn't show any urgency. Our ball security was terrible... everything seemed to go wrong in the first 20 minutes.
"Losing Keaton (Ingram) early in the game didn't help matters. We always thought we had the win in us and we did come back and showed plenty of grit and determination just before half-time.”
Collie added the forfeit by Wauchope Thunder earlier in the season did not help their cause.
"The Wauchope game probably cost us 60 to 80 points,” he said. "In the end Uni ended up with a better for and against which is disappointing.”
Once again Redmen inside centre Ed McGrath was at his wrecking-ball best while winger Luke Butler and scrum-half Dom Bullock put in good performances.
Of the forwards, Jacob Page and Billy Whalan played themselves to a standstill.
Henwoods Grafton second-grade side demolished Marlins 57-7 to also book a place in next week's minor semi-final.