Grafton United win worth the wait
GRAFTON United signed off its debut North Coast Football's Men's Premier League season with its first win in the competition.
And it wasn't just any win. It was a last gasp win against rivals Westlawn Tigers at Barnier Park.
A Braydon Jones cross from out wide met the head of Sam Herd whose effort cleared the keeper with the final play of the game.
The club's supporters erupted into chaos in a fitting finale for the newcomers.
"It was fantastic," coach Trent Cruickshank said.
"I think we deserved a couple of wins this year. The boys just weren't quite up to the speed and as the year progressed we got closer and closer.
"In a couple of games we managed to throw away a lead. So we're happy, not only for the win, but being the derby is always good."
Westlawn led 1-0 at half-time, but Ben Holder opened Grafton's account immediately after the break and then Bryce Jones slotted a goal into the far top corner to take the lead.
The hosts equalised with six minutes on the clock but it was Grafton United who stole the bragging rights.
"In fairness it could've gone either way. We had our backs against the wall a bit," Cruickshank said.
"They were devastated. They've been playing really well and thought they were going to come away with the win."
A pair of spectacular horizontal saves from keeper Jon Collen helped keep Grafton United in the game.
Cruickshank will part ways with the club next season when he returns to the South Coast.
He felt the club was in a good position to start making its mark on the competition.
"We had a good build-up to the end of the season," he said.
"Everyone's been training hard and team morale has been good even though we have been losing.
"We've got a lot of really good juniors coming through, which is pretty much why we started all this, because we kept losing all our good juniors to premier league clubs.
"We've actually been playing a lot of them in our reserve and first grade teams this season. I think it'll take another couple of seasons before we're even mid-table competitors, but if every year we're a little better we should be more than happy."
Boambee Bombers jumped into the finals following the final round of matches on Sunday.
The Bombers spent most of the season outside the top four but had played fewer games. They finished the regular season with three wins in a week, starting with Maclean 3-1, a midweek catch-up 10-2 defeat of Woolgoolga and finally demoralised Coffs Coast Tigers 8-1 to earn fourth spot.
The casualty was Northern Storm Thunder who who lost their must-win fixture to Sawtell Panthers 3-2.
NCF PREMIER LEAGUE
Grafton Utd 3 Westlawn Tigers 2
Sawtell Scorpions 3 d Nthn Storm Thunder 2
CCUFC Lions 2 d Urunga Raiders 1
Boambee Bombers 8 d Coffs Coast Tigers 1
Orara Valley 5 d Woolgoolga 0
Final standings: 58 CCUFC, 53 Urunga, 40 Sawtell, 37 Boambee, 35 Nthn Storm, 32 Maclean, 26 Orara Valley, 20 Coffs Coast, 9 Woolgoolga, 7 Westlawn, 5 Grafton Utd.