Clarence to host two semi-final rugby league matches
RUGBY league will take centre stage in Grafton this weekend as both local clubs host semi-final matches. Grafton Ghosts will host the minor semi-finals at Frank McGuren Field on Saturday before league fans head across the river to McKittrick Park when South Grafton Rebels host the major semi-finals on Sunday.
And it's just as well, with the city currently providing some of the strongest support for the sport in Country Rugby League.
"There seems to be more interest in rugby league on the Clarence Valley," said Group 2 administration officer Jim Anderson, who was disappointed in the gate figures from the weekend's matches played in Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads.
While up on the equivalent matches last year, Anderson believed both matches deserved more than the $3800 gate at Coronation Park, Nambucca Heads and $4400 at Geoff King Motors Sporting Complex, Coffs Harbour.
He believed the Australian Surfing Festival and Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge held on the same weekend in Coffs Harbour may have kept some fans away.
"It's disappointing considering the quality of first grade game that we had on a perfect day," Anderson said.
"I thought there would be more people given the quality of teams involved.
"The local derby on Saturday was a good scruff up, both sides had a good dig for their districts in pristine conditions.
"The crowds have dropped down over the years. The only place we're getting big gates is the Clarence River."
Coffs Harbour Comets led all the way to defeat Grafton Ghosts 33 to 20 in Sunday's qualifying final and book their place in this Sunday's major semi-final against South Grafton Rebels, the winner of which will host the 2015 grand final.
The loss handed Grafton hosting rights for the minor semi-final - a do or die clash with Nambucca Heads Roosters who overcame Macksville Sea Eagles 31-24.
"Nambucca are coming home strong so first grade's going to have to lift," Grafton vice president Terry Day said.
"We're hopeful of having Ryan Farrell back.
"Coffs Comets are a well drilled side as you would expect. Col Speed has them firing at right time of year, so there will be great games of footy both days."