EPIC WIN: Ghosts prevail in bloody battle of the river
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Grafton Ghosts edged the South Grafton Rebels with a narrow 12-6 win in an action-packed cross-river qualifying final at Frank McGuren Field on Sunday.
The Rebels started with real intent in the first set, laying some foundations and making strong ground.
South Grafton looked sharp, but the Ghosts were first out of the gate and took a lead through Todd Cameron, who pounced through a gap to the line after just two minutes before converting the try.
The Rebels continued to lift and hit the Ghosts hard but couldn't find a way through the wall of blue.
South Grafton worked some space and tried their luck when Hughie Stanley put a kick through but it was just too heavy for Grant Brown on the run.
The Rebels picked up their first of the afternoon with a well-worked switch that fell to Nick McGrady in the middle to barrel his way over before Brown's kick tied things up.
The Ghosts started to look unsettled under pressure and went into the break on the back foot.
South Grafton had a lightning start to the second half and caught the Ghosts napping with a short kick and an Allan McKenzie regather.
The Rebels were unlucky not to go ahead with a well-worked chance out wide but Alistair Faulkner couldn't keep his head as his flicked pass sailed over Parla Pearce's head with the tryline beckoning.
Momentum started to shift when discipline got the better of Brown and he was sent for 10 minutes in the sin bin after 50 minutes of play.
Tempers started to flare as players' frustrations surfaced for both sides and Ghosts man Vincent Williams was sent to the bin to make it 12 players apiece.
Grafton weren't going to back down to the challenge and they looked close to going ahead when Cameron played a kick through to Mitch Lollback but the fullback couldn't stay in.
Brown returned to the field and made an immediate impact but Grafton surged forward despite being a man down and a high tackle on Clint Greenshields gave Cameron a penalty kick for the Ghosts to go ahead.
The Rebels were under pressure with Williams back on the ground and held off the fast finishing Ghosts until Joel Moss crossed late to put the game out of reach. The narrow victory puts the Ghosts through to play the Coffs Harbour Comets for a chance at the grand final, while the Rebels will fight for their season against the Sawtell Panthers.
Grafton Ghosts 12 (Tries: Cameron 2', Joel Moss 76' Goals: Cameron 3', 63') def South Grafton Rebels 6 (Tries: McGrady 22', Goals: Brown 23')