GETTING TESTY: Things get firey between the South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Habour Comets in round three.
GETTING TESTY: Things get firey between the South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Habour Comets in round three. Sam Flanagan

MUST READ: 19 biggest moments from the 2019 Group 2 season

IN THE build up to next weekend's Group 2 Grand Final, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to look back at the 19 biggest storylines of 2019.

Here's what's captured our attention since April:

19. Panthers take Comets to the wire

In one of the games of the year, Sawtell Panthers came from the clouds to nearly pip Coffs Harbour Comets at the post in an instant classic.

Unfortunately for Panthers fans the Comets came away with a 36-30 win, but it cemented the fact Sawtell were a serious threat in 2019.

18. Woolgoolga hit their straps

The Woolgoolga Seahorses came to life during May and June, as they pushed the Comets to the limit and collected big wins over Macksville, Orara Valley, Bellingen and Sawtell.

It signalled the Seahorses were intent on making a splash in their first year back in the competition.

17. Early upset shocks competition

Sawtell had just edged past Bellingen in the opening round of the competition before failing to score a point in round two against Coffs Harbour.

So the league was left stunned when the Panthers beat the Ghosts in Grafton in a gritty 20-16 victory in round three.

16. Magpies and Thunder leave crowd speechless

It may have been a pre-season fixture, but the match between the Bellingen Valley Dorrigo Magpies and Australian Army Thunder was something else.

With little more than five minutes remaining, the Magpies looked home when they were leading 22-6. Though the Thunder cracked into life and roared back to end the game in a draw.

Action from the incredible 22-22 game between the Bellingen Valley Dorrigo Magpies and Australian Army Thunder in the annual Sgt Matthew Locke Charity Match.
Action from the incredible 22-22 game between the Bellingen Valley Dorrigo Magpies and Australian Army Thunder in the annual Sgt Matthew Locke Charity Match. Sam Flanagan

15. Orara Valley break their drought

After an incredibly tough season for the men from the mountains, Orara Valley were able to get a long-awaited win on the board.

Playing Macksville in Coramba in round 10, Orara toughed out a 28-22 win to record just their second victory of the year.

14. Touch judge does a runner 

A round four match between the Sawtell Panthers and Woolgoolga Seahorses game was delayed for more than five minutes, but not for an injury or streaker. 

A touch judge walked off during the game and didn't return, leaving both sides perplexed as a the situation unfolded.

13. Stunning debut from teenage winger

The Panthers unearthed one of the best finishers in the competition during their round seven clash with the Axemen, as 17-year-old Kalani Morris stole the show.

The flyer scored four tries and set tongues wagging during an incredible performance.

Kalani Morris was a standout for the Sawtell Panthers on debut.
Kalani Morris was a standout for the Sawtell Panthers on debut. Sam Flanagan

12. Ghosts show class against Orara Valley

In the midst of a brutal injury run, the Orara Valley Axemen had to get almost their entire playing group to play both reserve and first grade in round eight against the Grafton Ghosts.

With the first grade match becoming increasingly one-sided due to exhaustion, the Grafton Ghosts agreed to end the game early in a great show of sportsmanship.

11. Col makes Speedy exit from Axemen

Having won just one of their opening seven games, coach Col Speed decided it was for the best if he parted ways with the Orara Valley Axemen immediately.

Speed believed he had taken the club as far as he could. The side finished second on the ladder in 2018 and were seventh at the time of Speed's exit.

ON TARGET: Col Speed eyeing his Orara Valley Axemen at a training session earlier this year.
ON TARGET: Col Speed eyeing his Orara Valley Axemen at a training session earlier this year. Brad Greenshields

10. Ref resigns after explosive email

The touch judge at the centre of the debacle in the Panthers v Seahorses game sent an explosive email about the incident to his employers, club officials and members of the media in an amazing outburst. 

The touch judge ultimately resigned from his position with Group 2 after the email.

9. Commentator arrested by police mid match 

In incredible scenes, a match commentator for the Grafton Ghosts was arrested mid-call during Grafton's clash with Woolgoolga in round 12.

Veteran caller Dougie Graham was taken into custody for an outstanding warrant.

Football commentator Dougie Graham arrested by police during the Grafton Ghosts game
Football commentator Dougie Graham arrested by police during the Grafton Ghosts game Tim Howard

8. Competition unites in touching act 

Every club in Group 2 united for the final round of the regular season to raise money for the Mark Hughes Foundation in a great show of unity.

The inspiration behind the Magic Beanie Round was Bellingen woman Vicky Bonventi, who had two surgeries for brain cancer last year.

INSPIRATION: Mark Hughes with Vicky Bonventi.
INSPIRATION: Mark Hughes with Vicky Bonventi.

7. Comets and Rebels let them fly 

The Coffs Harbour Comets and South Grafton Rebels round three clash turned heated very quickly, with numerous fights breaking out in the second half.

With four players sent off and two in the sin bin, the referee made the correct decision to end the game early.

6. Ghosts send message to defending premiers

After losing to the Sawtell Panthers the week prior, the Grafton Ghosts were fired up to make a statement the following week when the Comets rolled into town.

With the scores locked at 12-12 at halftime, the Ghosts ran away with the match in the second half to send an early warning shot to the competition. 

5. Coffs Harbour return serve in big win and secure minor premiership  

Hosting the Ghosts in the return match during round 11, the Coffs Harbour Comets gave as good as they had received two months prior against the Grafton Ghosts. 

The Comets caught fire in the second half to extend their lead at the top of the ladder in the massive win.

HAPPY BOY: Coffs Harbour Comets winger Billy Griffiths shouts in delight as he crosses for his first of two tries against the Grafton Ghosts on Sunday.
HAPPY BOY: Coffs Harbour Comets winger Billy Griffiths shouts in delight as he crosses for his first of two tries against the Grafton Ghosts on Sunday. Sam Flanagan

 

4. Sawtell find form in finals surge 

Having dragged their heels for the last month of the competition, the Sawtell Panthers turned their form around in the opening two weeks of the finals. 

A tight win over Macksville and a huge 50-22 victory against South Grafton, who had beat them 50-12 just three weeks prior, has seen the Panthers get just one win away from the grand final.

3. Macksville break Woolgoolga hearts 

The final game of the regular season was the most important for both the Woolgoolga Seahorses and Macksville Sea Eagles as the victor would clinch the last spot in the finals.

Playing in front of a big home crowd, the Seahorses failed to fire as the Sea Eagles swooped into fifth after a 38-22 triumph.

Woolgoolga Seahorses playmaker Blake Seymour reacts after the final siren on Sunday.
Woolgoolga Seahorses playmaker Blake Seymour reacts after the final siren on Sunday. Sam Flanagan

2. Comets come from the heavens to secure grand final

Down by 16 points well into the second half of the qualifying final, the Coffs Harbour Comets looked like they would have to take the long road to this year's decider.

But within a flash Grafton's watertight defence became breakable, with the Comets taking full advantage as they raced away for a 32-22 win.

1. Latrell Hampton produces masterclass in game of the year

Trailing the Macksville Sea Eagles for most of the match with their finals hopes in the balance, the Panthers needed a miracle in round 12.

With the siren about to sound and stuck deep in their own territory, five-eighth Latrell Hampton skipped outside his man and raced away to set up fullback Daniel Donovan for an incredible match winner.

Hampton produced one of the finest, if not the best, individual performances of the year throughout the 22-18 win.



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