Dan's the man
THE Grafton Ghosts may have won the contest but Lower Clarence back-rower Dan Randall stole the show.
The Magpies' hardman produced a five-star performance in his side's 28-10 loss to the visitors in front of a massive crowd at the Maclean Showground.
After the match Randall was spotted sipping on a rum and coke with an ice pack to his swollen jaw.
Randall played like a man on a mission taking on the Ghosts' defence with his powerhouse running and tackling himself to a standstill.
And he did all this with a suspected fractured jaw.
But in the end, the Ghosts first-half performance got them home.
The expected fiery opening period turned into a fizzer after both sides were guilty of too many unforced errors.
However, the Ghosts finally got their act together and ran in two unanswered tries through wingers Sam Hartmann and Daniel Lollback.
The 2010 premier's game plan worked a treat as they applied the blow torch to the Magpies' edges on both sides of the ruck.
Not keen on mixing it up the middle third of the park the Ghosts stretched the Magpies' defence with captain and half-back Ryan Farrell orchestrating proceedings.
With a lead of 22-4 at the break, the huge crowd on hand expected the floodgates to open but the Magpies kept themselves in the contest with brutal defence and a never-say-die attitude.
The game deteriorated in the final 20-minutes as the errors continued to mount.
With the crowd slowly losing interest, two of the smallest men on the field decided to take matters into their hands.
Magpies' fullback Joel Moss and Ghosts' hooker Rhys Walters vented their frustration with a flurry of punches with Walters receiving 10 minutes in the bin.
After the bruising encounter Magpies co-coach Ricky Binge summed up the game in three words, “too many errors.”
“The boys can hold their heads up high with their second half performance but the first half was sloppy,” Binge said.
“We made too many errors and they didn't ... it's as simple as that.
“We just kept giving them the ball back in the first-half. We addressed it at the break and fixed the problem to some extent in the second half.”
Grafton Ghosts coach Col Speed admitted his side has a few areas to work on in attack, but defensively he couldn't be happier.
“The boys were complaining about the sun in their eyes but at the end of the day we were too lateral in attack,” he said.
“We needed to go forward first before spreading the ball.
“But overall defensively I thought it was a good effort. There were some massive hits out there today.
“Bingy (Ryan Binge) and a few others put some good hits on and our boys just got up and got on with it.”
In what can only be described as a monumental effort, Magpies young front-rower Josh Ryan played in all three games yesterday.
“Josh played under-18's, reserve grade and played about 15-minutes in first grade,” Binge revealed.
“It was very demanding but it shows spirit like that goes a long way to holding a club together.
“And it was also unreal to see the crowd today. I'm not sure it was all the trash talk this week but it was fantastic to see.”