Redmen in stunning escape against Snappers
DID the Redmen knock on or did Snappers drag the ball forward?
The right answer will be forever lost in the mists of time after Grafton came from a mile back to overturn certain defeat and edge out Coffs Harbour 33-27 at Jung Quarries Rugby Park.
With 50 seconds on the clock the home side were in front and about to wreck Grafton's dreams of the minor premiership.
Instead a late surge took play close to the dressing shed corner and in his maiden top grade appearance, winger Ryan Spies became the toast of the Clarence Valley by going over the line.
The home crowd protested, the match officials put heads together for a consultation and the referee's arm went skyward to signal the Redmen were off the hook.
Stunned Snappers co-coaches Brett Davis and Troy Baker were understandably deflated but tried their best to be philosophical.
"Our guys understand from that last half of football that it's now the finals and we have to lift,” Davis said.
"It may be the best thing to happen to us and put some fire in the belly for next week.”
Snappers were always going to meet Port Pirates in next Sunday's elimination semi on home soil but winning the game and delivering the minor title to Hastings Valley would have been one of the great twists of rugby fortune.
Honestly, it should have been a home victory after Coffs scored early and were up 15-0 in as many minutes.
They led 22-7 at intermission but a Greg Jackson try after coming back on started the Grafton revival.
Coffs then scored the sweetest of tries when Zac Cross bowed so low to pick up a pass to his feet he was left with grass stains on his fingertips and a floater back inside saw Oscar Edwards weave through heavy traffic to go over.
The Redmen kept coming back with their big centres running hard until they managed to draw uncomfortably close.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
While Snappers were momentarily dismayed at the outcome, there was plenty of praise for terrific opponents who never gave up or lost belief in theemselves.
"It was great to get a good start but that can sometimes be a negative for us as well,” Davis added.
"You take things a bit easier and think you can score from anywhere without doing the hard yards.”
Co-coach Baker saw line defence as one of the positives.
Grafton threw runner after runner at the Snappers from close range and only really wrong-footed the scramblers on one occasion.
"The first half was very good,” Baker agreed.
"However, it's an 80 minute game and that's how long we must be switched on.”