Mustangs advance to league final after crushing Grafton
MURWILLUMBAH Mustangs will face Ballina Seagulls in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final following a 17-10 win over Grafton Ghosts.
The Ghosts were dealt a cruel blow before yesterday's match with NRRRL winger of the year Joel Moss succumbing to a groin injury.
His impact was sorely missed by the Ghosts who struggled to fight their way through a Mustangs-dominated first half.
Ghosts' fans were furious with the first 30 minutes of the game, as the Ghosts found themselves on the wrong end of a 12-3 penalty count.
Mitch Lollback, who covered Moss's position on the left wing, was sent to the sin bin for holding down in a 33rd minute tackle, leaving his side a man short for 10 minutes.
Grafton didn't concede any points during that period, but Mustangs captain-coach Damien Quinn pointed to that period as being a turning point.
"I wasn't concerned we only scored one try in that first 30 because we knew they'd tire late in the second half," Quinn said.
"It was a bloody tough game but we showed up with the right attitude.
"We knew we had to stick to the game plan and that's what we did."
The Ghosts mounted a strong comeback in the second half but any momentum was killed when the touch judge found a forward pass in Aaron Hartmann's 59th minute try.
Murwillumbah got a roll on from that point, with Dylan Smith's second try knocking the wind out of Grafton's sails.
A Nathan Jordan field goal in the 74th minute sealed the hosts' grand final spot.
Quinn's team will face a rested Ballina in the grand final next week.
The Seagulls that dished up a 36-6 mauling in last week's major semi-final between the two teams.
"If we turn up with a good attitude then I think we can win," Quinn said.
"They are a good team so it's going to be tough."