Ghosts to host as Mustangs slip up
GRAFTON Ghosts will host the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League first-grade grand final following yesterday's hard-fought 18-12 win over Murwillumbah Mustangs in front of a large and vociferous crowd at Stan Sercombe Oval.
The Ghosts “did a Mustangs” and played virtual mistake-free football from go to whoa whereas their hosts made more mistakes in the second stanza than they have made during the rest of the regular season.
Yesterday's victory not only earned the Ghosts hosting rights for the grand final – always a big money-spinner for the host club – but reversed the result of a spiteful match a fortnight back when the Mustangs posted a 20-12 victory.
The Mustangs looked likely to go on and win yesterday's match after taking a 12-6 lead into the sheds following a typical workman-like performance in the opening 40 minutes.
But after the resumption, the Mustangs began taking a few wrong options, gifting the Ghosts more than their fair share of possession – and you just can't do that to a side like them and expect to win a game of footy.
Mustangs coach Troy McLean, like the rest of his troops, was shattered by the loss but he was quick to give full credit to the Ghosts.
“When we took the 12-6 lead into half-time on the back of some solid football, we all thought that we were in the box seat to go on and win it,” McLean said.
“But we then took a few silly options when we went back out which allowed them to get back into the match.
“And then when the rain came (it bucketed down) it played right into their hands and they took full advantage of the slippery conditions and utilised a tremendous kicking game to keep us pinned down in our territory.
“It made it tough going for the boys and we just couldn't get back into it once they got in front, no matter how hard we tried.
“Look, I couldn't be prouder of them ... they never stopped trying and we just beaten by a better side on the day.”
Ghosts coach Col Speed was over the moon with the victory.
“It doesn't get much better than that,” he said.
“Our defensive line was immaculate and our kicking game was spot on ... a great effort by all the players.”
Rangy Mustangs prop Lynden Murphy had another great game with his hard-hitting defence and powerful bursts in the rucks. He was well supported by Sam Panting and the tireless Luke Covell.
The Mustangs face Northern United in the preliminary final at Stan Sercombe Oval next Sunday. United advanced courtesy of a 38-18 victory over Evans Head in Saturday's minor semi-final.