Redmen upset premiers City
By STEVE SPINKS
FORMER Brisbane first-grader Al Donaghy inspired Grafton to the upset of the season with a 20-15 victory over defending premiers Lismore City in the eighth round of Bang-alow Hotel Far North Coast rugby union.
Donaghy, who was a Grafton junior before heading to Brisbane to link with Souths, scored one try and was in everything as the Redmen outlasted City in slippery conditions at Lismore Rugby Park.
Grafton scored three tries to two, with all of the visitors' tries scored by forwards.
The victory was the Redmen's fourth on the trot and their first victory on the road since 2001.
"Al Donaghy was the stand-out," Grafton coach Gary Powell said.
"He probably kept us in the game with a few big tackles and the amount of ball he turned over."
When City shot out to an early 12-0 lead, courtesy of two tries to winger Steve Hughes, it looked like the Redmen's curse against the Greens would continue.
The last time Grafton beat Lismore was in the mid-1990s.
However, the visitors finally got on the board just before the break.
It was all Grafton in the second half and they wore down City in the middle of the field.
Bit by bit the Redmen pegged back Lismore's lead and finally hit the front with 15 minutes remaining.
City wouldn't give in and had the best of the last 10 minutes, but some brilliant Grafton defence saved them the match.
"That was the difference," Powell said.
"Our boys dug deep and our fitness and discipline was very good."
Others to stand out for the Redmen was prop Dave Hales and flanker Paul Cameron.
For City it was a match that could have been won especially as they were held up three times over the line.
But in the end they couldn't convert their opportunities.
Back-rowers Ray Taylor and Heath Conlan, second-rower Gavin Tulk, five-eighth John O'Brien and winger Steve Hughes played well for City.
Bulls on top
CASINO moved to the top of the competition ladder with a hard-fought 26-14 win over Southern Cross University at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.
Each side scored two tries but in the end it was the boot of Casino fullback Tory Gilmour that was the difference.
He nailed four penalty goals and two conversions and streaked in for a try for a personal pointscore of 21 points.
It would have been especially sweet for Gilmour, who was playing against his old club.
For the visitors, flanker Jarrod Cameron continued his good form as did five-eighth Nathan Quirk as the Students surprisingly stuck with the Bulls in the forwards.
It was only towards the end of the match that the rugged Casino eight started to dominate the tight exchanges.
For Uni, second-rower Henry Vanderglas, No8 Dan Doyle and five-eighth Eddie Douglas tried hard.
BALLINA winger Andrew Gordon proved the difference for Ballina when they defeated Wollongbar 30-21 at Quays Reserve, Ballina.
Gordon, who has crossed codes from the Byron Bay Red Devils league team this season, kicked three conversions and three penalty goals as the Seahorses made good use of a big southerly in the second half.
Each side scored three tries, but Gordon nailed the important three-pointers in the second half as the home side recovered from a 14-7 half-time deficit.
The highlight of the day was the battle between inside centres Beau Milner for Ballina and Nick Glynn for Wollongbar.
Glynn scored two tries for the Pioneers, but Milner also crossed for a five-pointer and was rewarded the three player-of-the-year points from the referee.
He was well supported by Gordon, while Glynn and flanker Kent Sharman played prominent roles for Wollongbar.
Round 8 details
GRAFTON 20 (S Forwell, M Robinson, A Donaghy tries; J Landrigan conversion, penalty goal) d LISMORE CITY 15 (S Hughes 2 tries; B Sloane conversion, penalty goal).
CASINO 26 (R Randall, T Gilmour tries; T Gilmour 2 conversions, 4 penalty goals) d SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY 14 (B Brooke, H Vanderglas tries; P McMahon 2 conversions).
BALLINA 30 (D Baggaley, Andrew Gordon, B Milner tries; Andrew Gordon 3 conversions, 3 penalty goals) d WOLLONGBAR-ALSTONVILLE 21 (N Glynn 2, B Grayndler tries; M Lloyd 3 conversions).
Points: Casino 26, Lismore 25, Ballina 22, Grafton 19, Southern Cross University 11, Wollongbar-Alstonville 10, Yamba 1.
Best and fairest points
3 points: Dave Hales, Jarrad Cameron, Beau Milner.
2 points: Tim Landrigan, Dan Doyle, Kent Sharman.
1 points: Ray Taylor, Nathan Quirk, Liam Preston.
Reserve grade: Lismore 29 d Grafton 3, Southern Cross University 13 d Casino 10, Ballina 29 d Wollongbar-Alstonville 0.
Points: Ballina 33, Lismore 18, Grafton 16, Wollongbar-Alstonville 15, Southern Cross University 14, Mullumbimby 14, Casino 1.
Under-19s: Southern Cross University 35 d Casino 12, Lismore d Grafton (forfeit).
Points: Lismore 29, Wollongbar-Alstonville 28, Lennox Head 19, Casino 14, Southern Cross University 14, Grafton 5.
Third grade: Ballina 5 d Byron Bay 0, Yamba 37 d Mullumbimby 0, Lismore 42 d Grafton 0.
Points: Lismore 23, Ballina 16, Byron Bay 13, Yamba 13, Mullumbimby 6, Grafton 5.
Village competition: Kyogle 22 d Evans River 5, Richmond Range 14 d Iluka 12, Lennox Head v Bangalow (score not provided). Points: Bangalow 25, Iluka 25, Kyogle 24, Lennox Head 13, Richmond Range 8, Evans River 7.