Grafton creates history with win
SOUTH Grafton High School's under 14 side advanced to the grand final of the state-wide Buckley Shield with a historic win over their bigger Chifley College opponents at McKittrick Park yesterday.
But it was the outstanding performance of five-eighth Ethan Roberts which was the highlight of the match and perhaps of the entire Buckley Shield competition thus far.
Roberts, who scored two brilliant individual tries, was involved in everything dangerous the South High side dished up in attack.
His defensive work rate was also enormous and when his smaller teammates were shaken off by their larger Chifley opponents, it was often left to Roberts to stop the run.
Roberts had terrific support in attack from halfback Andrew Hartmann, who was also dangerous and scored two second-half four pointers.
Hartmann is the next in a long line of talented Grafton footballers, and kicked some crucial conversions in the 20-14 victory.
"Our halves certainly won the game for us today," coach Matt McKee said.
"Ethan (Roberts) was dominant again and it seemed every time he got the ball it took 13 of their players to stop him."
Watching Roberts slice through Chifley's defensive line was like watching Greg Inglis step through a reserve grade line-up and the young player already looks destined for top flight football.
In fact, the youngster has been drafted into the Brisbane Broncos' development squad, as a precursor to signing a contract with the Queensland club once he turns 16.
The large Chifley College outfit were shocked early when Roberts crashed over from short range midway through the first half.
But while the bigger side looked to tire early, they were still dangerous in attack and quickly hit back to level the score six minutes before the break.
Roberts, however, was determined to hit half time ahead, and scooted through the defensive line again before Hartmann finished off under the posts for a 12-6 lead.
But a dodgy half time hooter cost the home-side dearly as Chifley hit back after the bell should have sounded to score in the corner off a high-cross field kick.
Fortunately, the local side was not made to pay for the error, and finished the job in the second-half despite some nail-biting moments.
Two determined tries for Hartmann were enough to snuff out the Chifley Challenge, and advance South High to the Buckley Shield final in Sydney next week.
The grand final will be played at the Cronulla Shark's home-ground, Toyota Stadium next Tuesday.
It is the first time that a Grafton side has advanced so far in the competition.