Ghosts weather the conditions in defensive shut-out
RUGBY LEAGUE: Grafton Ghosts showed their fortitude in defence as the home side weathered the conditions to register their second home ground shut-out in a row.
Grafton kept the Woolgoolga Seahorses scoreless while running in a couple of late four-pointers to take the Group 2 Round7 clash 36-0.
It was a tiring first half for both sides with possession rates at the mercy of the unrelenting mist falling across Frank McGuren Field.
The rain did not stop the heavy hits from both camps as the two defensive sides aimed to dislodge the pill with every tackle.
Ghosts were the first side to master the conditions, after a break down the right hand edge from winger Cody Hartmann.
The young flyer was pulled down a metre outside the in-goal area but a quick play the ball to Khan Williams set the side up to find a charging Mitch Lollback who slid across the stripe.
Todd Cameron was quick to add the extras giving the Ghosts a handy six-point buffer in what would be a low scoring half of football.
It was a gruelling effort from Ghosts workhorse Adam Slater through the middle stages of the half, with the front-rower charging hard into an unforgiving defensive line.
Both sides struggled to complete their sets with handling becoming harder as the half wore on.
It was not until the 30th minute that the Ghosts added to their lead when interchange forward Riley Law managed to find a gap in the Seahorses' defensive line and slid across under the sticks to make the conversion an easy one for Cameron.
Grafton took the two-try advantage to the main break as the sky darkened and the rain began to beat down heavier.
It was a scrappy first five minutes in the second stanza as both sides traded scrums on the halfway line.
It took a smart set of one-out football from the Ghosts to break the scrum cycle and after a tough offload from lock Ben McLennan found Cameron on the chest who dove across from five metres out to give the Ghosts an 18-point lead.
With the advantage on the scoreboard, the Ghosts began to set up camp on the halfway line, not allowing Woolgoolga to get out of their own half.
Seahorses interchange prop Sydney Havea was relentless for the visitors, putting his body on the line in defence, as the Ghosts continued to launch raids in the wet.
With the rain still falling at Frank McGuren Field, Ghosts leader Danny Wicks was quick to point to the posts when the home side was gifted a penalty 20 metres out in front.
Cameron obliged his captain, pushing the difference beyond three converted tries.
Ghosts front-rowers Wicks and Slater put the side on their shoulders as they carted the ball through the middle of the Woolgoolga pack, providing field position and opportunity for the home side.
Prolific centre Dylan Collett scored his customary try for the afternoon when a slick backline movement started by Frame got the centre on the outside of his opposite number as he charged across in the corner.
Lollback made it a double for the afternoon after he trailed through behind Law who turned his back into the defence to find his fullback with a crafty offload.
Lollback cut back past Woolgoolga fullback Izack Smidt to go in under the posts and give Cameron another easy conversion attempt.
Grafton put the icing on the cake with a try to winger Hartmann in the right hand corner in the dying seconds with Cameron polishing the afternoon off with a sideline conversion.
GRAFTON GHOSTS 36 (Mitch Lollback 2, Riley Law, Todd Cameron, Dylan Collett, Cody Hartmann tries; Cameron 6 goals) def WOOLGOOLGA SEAHORSES 0
Who will win the 2017 Group 2 Rugby League title?
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