Redmen's great escape
RUGBY UNION: McKimms Grafton Redmen's dramatic 33-27 late win over Coffs Snappers on Saturday will go down in the annals as one of the clubs greatest comebacks.
A Ryan Spies five-pointer and a sideline conversion from Kevin Weeks on the verge of full time not only sealed a place in the major semi-final next week but also an incredible turnaround.
Down 27-7 at half time, the error-prone Redmen needed a bonus point victory to keep their dream of a home semi-final alive or face Hastings Valley Vikings in Port Macquarie, one of the hardest road trips in the competition.
Just as the contest threatened to become a rout, Grafton sprung to life, scoring three late tries to leave a shell-shocked Snappers side with plenty of soul searching to do.
Snappers capitalised on a plethora of Grafton errors to build a seemingly match-winning lead, but once again Grafton's never-say-die attitude came to the fore.
There were emotional scenes after the game with Redmen players and supporters flooding onto the field with the realisation Grafton had taken out the minor premiership in both first and second grade, a feat not achieved since 1981.
Redmen captain Kyle Hancock called in players from both grades as well as the women's side to belt out the club victory song as Snappers players were left to ponder what might have been.
"It took a lot of guts, effort and belief within the side to stick to our game plan when you are 20 points behind and come back like we did,” an emotional Hancock said after the game.
"You can't win minor premierships or any game for that matter without the Reggies. You have injuries throughout the season and blokes have to step up.
"Every player who has been called on has got the job done and that's what you need to win premierships.”
Hancock admitted his side's slow starts and poor discipline were still a major concern.
"We had the same problem last game against Hastings,” he said.
"We didn't stick to our structure and our intensity was not there early on. It's something we need to rectify, especially against Hastings this weekend.”
Vikings again flexed their muscle with a 102-0 victory over a depleted SCU Marlins outfit, but it was not enough to topple Grafton from first place on the ladder.
Grafton's second grade side produced their best game of the season with a clinical 45-7 victory against Snappers, while the Grafton Women's Rubies side was gallant in their 38-0 loss to Coffs.