South Grafton High win by a whisker in the DEX Shield
A DECISION to rest key players late in South Grafton High's DEX Shield Open Rugby League clash with Grafton High almost proved a costly gamble for coach Matt McKee.
South Grafton eventually defeated Grafton 32-20 in round two at Frank McGuren Field on Monday night, but not before a late scare as Grafton closed the deficit to six points late in the match.
With a University Shield North Coast final awaiting on Thursday and holding a seemingly comfortable lead in the latter stages against Grafton, McKee dragged off the likes of Nick and Tom McGrady and James Hughes for a breather.
However, a disastrous string of handling errors coupled with a determined and a courageous effort from Grafton conspired to close the gap and with six minutes on the clock there was still time for an upset.
The trio was quickly rushed back on and sure enough a Hughes break led to a Tom McGrady try to secure the win.
"Today was not the best of games we've played," McKee said afterwards. "Our completion rate was really low."
Maclean High earlier defeated McAuley Catholic College 44-18 to set up a mouth-watering decider in the final round at McKittrick Park next Wednesday.
"They always seem to be the force to be reckoned with," McKee said.
"If we improve our completions I think we'll be a good chance against Maclean."
In the meantime South Grafton is focused on tomorrow's 11am clash with Wauchope in the University Shield. A win will see the school match its 2014 effort with a ticket into the top 16 in the state knockout.
"Hopefully we can learn on our mistakes and put it towards Thursday for our game against a tough Wauchope side," South Grafton Opens captain Mason Graham said. "Hopefully we can pull through there at home and take a Sydney trip."
Grafton High forfeited in DEX Shield Under-14s to South Grafton, while defending champions Maclean were upstaged by McAuley 22-16 and will need a 14-point win over South Grafton next Wednesday to retain the title.
2015 DEX SHIELD RUGBY LEAGUE
Rd 1 on Wed, June 10 @ Maclean Showground
Maclean HS d Grafton HS (fft), Sth Grafton HS d McAuley CC 18-10
Maclean HS d Grafton HS 50-18, Sth Grafton d McAuley CC 44-18
Rd 2 on Mon, June 15 @ Frank McGuren Field
Sth Grafton HS d Grafton HS (fft), McAuley CC d Maclean HS 22-16
Maclean HS d McAuley CC 34-16, Sth Grafton HS d Grafton HS 32-20
Rd 3 on Wed, June 24 @ McKittrick Park
4.30pm Grafton HS v McAuley CC, 5.30pm Maclean HS v Sth Grafton HS
6.30pm Grafton HS v McAuley CC, 7.30pm Maclean HS v Sth Grafton HS