Referee Nathan Grace stopped the game momentarily to discuss crowd behaviour with Coffs Harbour Comets president Steve Gooley. Group 2 rugby league Ken Orr Memorial Shield 13 May 2018 Geoff King Motors park Photo: Brad Greenshields
Referee Nathan Grace stopped the game momentarily to discuss crowd behaviour with Coffs Harbour Comets president Steve Gooley. Group 2 rugby league Ken Orr Memorial Shield 13 May 2018 Geoff King Motors park Photo: Brad Greenshields Brad Greenshields

Smoothy, Grace ready to step up for semi-finals

RUGBY LEAGUE: Group 2 referees' boss Barry Heffernan said there was no expectation on the referees for this weekend's minor and major semi-finals but admitted he hoped for fast-flowing games.

The latest acquisition to the Group 2 ranks Blake Smoothy, who transferred from Group 10 midway through the season, has been handed the reins for the first grade major semi-final between Grafton and Coffs Harbour at Frank McGuren Field on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile fellow lead referee Nathan Grace will officiate the minor semi-final between Orara Valley and Macksville at Coramba tomorrow.

Heffernan, chairman of the referee appointment board, said the decision was not about superiority but a chance to shake up the status quo.

"It is not about one referee being demoted and the other put up. I just like to chop and change a bit,” he said.

"Nathan has seen a lot of the Comets and Ghosts in recent seasons, and it is not a bad thing to get a fresh face looking over the two sides.”

Heffernan said he had been impressed with the efforts of Smoothy since the physiotherapist joined the group in June.

"He likes to let the game flow with minimal penalties, but he still manages to control it well,” Heffernan said.

"At the end of the day he will just ref to the game and it is up to the players as to how many stoppages there are.”

Heffernan said he had been impressed with the referee ranks this season as the group aimed to clean up the game. It is understood the two referees are battling for grand final honours in a fortnight.



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