Ghosts tough out win to set up derby semi final
LEAGUE TAG: Grafton Ghosts have set up a mouthwatering Battle of the River local derby major semi-final against South Grafton Rebels this weekend.
The Rebels, who enjoyed a week off the field after taking out the Group 2 league tag minor premiership, will have all guns blazing for a Ghosts side that has captured some end of season momentum.
The Ghosts earned their way into the major semi-final with a strong defensive effort to hold out second-placed Sawtell Panthers in a low-scoring qualifying final at Coramba.
Ghosts co-coach Rhys Hambly praised his side for their line speed and extra efforts in what was a thrilling 12-8 win over the Panthers.
"Our defence won the game for us. The girls just really aimed up, their speed off the line was unbelievable,” Hambly said. "They all just wanted to work for each other and kept pushing from the inside. Sawtell's two tries were a bit of luck as well with one off a kick and the other off a loose ball.
"The attitude from our girls was just incredible. They wanted to win that game. They want to keep going.”
Zahli Webb, who stepped in at dummy-half for the missing Kate Butcherine, was the side's best on ground after stepping up to the mark.
Butcherine is expected to return ahead of this weekend's major semi-final along with fellow players Elizabeth Robinson and Sophie Grainger.
The Ghosts will need all hands on deck as they prepare to meet the competition benchmark in the Rebels. Hambly believes his side has what it takes to beat their arch-rivals.
"They are the best in the competition and they deserve that accolade,” he said. "But we have watched the Rebels girls and we have pinpointed a few of their key players that we need to minimise their time with the ball.”
The major semi-final will be played at Frank McGuren Field with the Ghosts first grade side aiming up for a clash with Coffs Harbour Comets.
The Comets were unstoppable in a 46-14 win over Orara Valley Axemen.