Ghosts bounce back to put premiers to sword
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Grafton Ghosts have bounced back from last weekend's defeat to put the defending premiers to the sword, toppling the Coffs Harbour Comets 38-12.
With the scores locked at 12-12 at half time, the Ghosts went up another gear in the second half, much to the delight of the big home crowd that had flocked to Frank McGuren Field yesterday afternoon.
The Comets drew first blood when they found an overlap in a blindside raid and winger William Griffiths crossed to score out wide after six minutes. Fullback Nathan Curry added the extras to give the visitors an early lead.
The Ghosts were the next to score when winger Mitch Gorman toed through a lose ball and regathered to sprint almost the entire length of the field to post his team's first points. Hooker Todd Cameron's conversion was successful and the scores were locked at 6-6.
In response, Comets interchange forward Jason Whareiatu carried Ghosts defenders with him in a determined charge to the line to score the Comets' second try
The Ghosts hit back with four minutess left on the clock for the first half when Daniel Lavender barged his way over the line next to the posts. Halfback Brad Billsborough added the extras to lock the scores at 12-12, where the score remained at half time.
The Comets started the second half strongly and quickly put the home side under pressure with repeat sets close to the Ghosts line, but a short drop-out from Billsborough was regathered by the Ghosts.
A penalty for a strip gifted the Ghosts their first attacking raid of the second half, however, the pressure was released when a backline play broke down and turned over possession.
The home crowd didn't have to wait long before they could celebrate the Ghosts' first points of the second half when backrower Muller found a beautiful ball close to the line to put centre Cooper Woods through the Comets line to score under the posts. A simple assignment for Billsborough to convert the try gave the Ghosts the lead for the first time in the game.
A penalty against the Comets for a crusher tackle on Billsborough gave Cameron a shot at goal from in front, and with the kick successful the Ghosts took their lead out to eight points with 23 minutes remaining.
Shortly after, the Ghosts were on the attack again but an intercept from Comets winger Griffiths turned the tables. With 10 minutes to go the Comets raid fizzled out when a deep kick was taken on the full in the in-goal by Gorman. Two tackles later the Ghosts were given another boost when the referee pinged Comets prop Callan Tapine for being offside.
It was all the invitation Grafton prop Riley Law needed, forcing his way over to score. Cameron converted the try to take the Ghosts out to a 14-point lead with six minutes remaining on the clock.
From the kick-off, captain-coach Danny Wicks demanded the ball and in a devastating run he brushed aside a handful of Comets defenders to score a long-range try to put his side further in front. Cameron added the extra two points to take the score out to 32-12.
However the home side weren't done yet, and to close out the game they found space out wide through Woods, who broke through the line and got a pass away to fullback Mitch Lollback, who was in support to score a try in his comeback game for Grafton.
FULL TIME: GRAFTON GHOSTS 38 (Lollback, Gorman, Woods, Law, D. Wicks, Lavender tries, Billsborough 2, Cameron 5 goals) def COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 12 (Griffiths, Whareiatu tries, Curry 2 goals).