PLAYING for almost 20 minutes with at least one player off the field due to sin binnings has proven costly for Orara Valley.
Shortly before half time the Axemen had two players sin binned within moments of each other and Grafton took full advantage.
At that stage the Axemen led 14-6 but a try to Adam Slater before the interval followed by two more almost immediately after the resumption gave the Ghosts a 22-14 lead and momentum.
The Axemen were still a chance of stealing the game when a Jeremy Taylor try 10 minutes from time brought the margin back to only six minutes.
But when halfback Ant Cowan was given a 10 minute rest by the referee for the second time in the match, the Axemen were always going to struggle to find a way to clinch an unlikely victory.
Orara Valley lock Richie Roberts said not having the full complement of players on the field for 80 minutes hindered the Axemen's attempt to stay in the top five.
"We had a few players in the sin bin throughout the game and that never helped our cause today,"
"We were off to a great lead today but discipline and ball control in the back of the game, you can't afford to give Grafton, a good side like that, a lot of ball and be short on players."
The Axemen need to regroup quickly as it will be playing against Sawtell on Wednesday night.
The contest will be played at Coramba Sportsground after Orara Valley provided a certificate proving the ground's lighting met the required minimum standard.
The match was originally meant to be played on Tuesday night but Group 2 officials granted a request to have the match played on Wednesday. Kickoff will be at 7.45pm after the reserve grade game.
On Saturday Bellingen had a sniff of its first win of the season with 20 minutes of its contest with Coffs Harbour remaining.
Scores were locked together at 16-all but the Magpies couldn't complete the fairytale with Coffs Harbour scoring three late tries to score an unimpressive but important win.
Who will win the 2016 Group 2 Rugby League First Grade Premiership?
This poll ended on 15 August 2016.
South Grafton Rebels
Coffs Harbour Comets
Nambucca Heads Roosters
Macksville Sea Eagles
Orara Valley Axemen
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
GRAFTON GHOSTS 38 (Dylan Collett 3, Mitch Gorman 2, Ryan Binge, Adam Slater tries; Jayden Connors 5 goals) def ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 26 (Nathan Davis 2, Richie Roberts, Edward Vale-Tighe, Jeremy Taylor tries; Ant Cowan 3 goals)
Coffs Harbour def Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 30-16
South Grafton def Nambucca Heads 38-12
Woolgoolga def Macksville 34-32