Big James Livock (centre) was just one of 34 outstanding players who turned the collision between the Roosters and Rebels into a classic.
Big James Livock (centre) was just one of 34 outstanding players who turned the collision between the Roosters and Rebels into a classic. Gemima Harvey

Roosters edge Rebels 26-24 in best Group 2 spectacle in ages

MANY great rugby league matches have graced Coronation Park and Nambucca Heads' latest 26-24 win over South Grafton deserves inclusion among the classics.

At a time when the standard of Group 2 first grade football is under fire, the Roosters and Rebels turned on brilliance, bravery and non-stop thrills from first whistle to full-time hooter.

The defence was brutal and while the forwards went the knuckle twice, it never bubbled over, thanks to the obvious mutual respect shared by the combatants.

Mistakes were made but only a total footy fanatic would find fault, such was the pressure these players willingly subjected themselves to.

And while the attack wasn't the dominant factor of the afternoon, there was enough magic tricks produced to satisfy even the most fastidious supporter.

If there was one decisive advantage that set the home side on the path to victory it was the Rebels slow start - again - and the superb skills of Wes Kelly and Cameron Blair to engineer the first two tries scored by Jay Melrose.

It meant, the visitors were always chasing and while representative centre Chris Carr was shell-shocked by the loss, he eventually admitted he'd just been in the middle of what he knows is coming up in the semis.

"Our completions weren't so good but we're working on it," he said.

"A lot of dropped ball due to the pace of the game and Nambucca jumper all over it.

"I know we started slow and we were slapping each other before the game to make sure we were ready but it's something I can't explain.

"A great game, maybe, but one we really wanted to win so bad."

The most joy-filled player on the field was Nambucca prop forward James Livock.

The former Group player of the year is back from North Sydney Bears and while he may not have been the best player on the paddock, he was certainly the most thrilling to watch.

Livock oozes enthusiasm and confesses to loving the game and all its quirks.

He particularly enjoyed Cameron Blair's final try when the veteran fooled even his own team mates.

Taking a penalty, Blair turned a pirouette worthy of a start on Dancing With The Stars and crashed over in the corner.

"We didn't know what he was doing and then he danced around and disappeared over the line," he said.

"Funny way to end the day.

"All us rough heads in the team got stuck in and we got momentum rolling forward.

"It worked so good in the first 10 minutes so we could get first points and it was a matter of going on with it.

"Still it was hard work and the Rebels never backed down."

NAMBUCCA HEADS ROOSTERS 26 (Jay Melrose 2, Wes Kelly, Kurtley Kelly, Cameron Blair tries; Cameron Blair 3 goals) def SOUTH GRAFTON REBELS (Mal Webster, Hughie Stanley, Dwayne Duke, Steven Walker tries; Roy Bell 4 goals)

Coffs Harbour d Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 70-0

Grafton d Macksville 44-24

Sawtell d Orara Valley 74-18

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