Ghosts dont scare us
ALL the pressure is on Grafton Ghosts heading into Sunday’s Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final.
And that is exactly how the Ballina Seagulls want it.
The Seagulls were last night preparing for the decider and are more than happy to let the all-conquering Ghosts dominate the pre-game talk.
And in a way, they should.
Undefeated, player of the year, top point-scorer, record-breaking try-scorer, six players in the team of the year and the best record in NSW country rugby league in 2010 – Ghosts certainly have had the perfect year.
Until this point, at least.
Make no mistake, the Seagulls are planning to bring the Ghosts’ four months of good work undone.
Sure, they have tried three times in 2010 and failed miserably on all occasions but this Sunday is different.
This is the decider.
Coach-in-waiting Greg Barnes insists that there will be no repeat of the major semi-final played two weeks ago where Grafton coasted home 34-6.
“That was a day of stark contrast,” he said.
“We were off and Grafton were on. Our defence struggled and everything Ghosts touched turned to gold.”
Barnes, who has been at the club for 10 years and is set to take over the head coaching role in 2011, has run the rule over the top squad and sees no signs of a similar collapse.
“Just being around them, watching them train, they look pretty solid,” he said.
“There looks to be no nerves, no different signs; they’ve just gone about training as they have the rest of the year.”
The club entered 2010 in somewhat of a rebuilding stage; only three players – captain Ben Crawford, centre Ed Killingbeck and half Andrew Battese – remain from their last grand final appearance in 2007.
“A lot of us weren’t expecting to make it this far,” Barnes said.
“But we are here now and in no way are the boys seeing it as a bonus – we are here to win the comp.”
And those three survivors, along with Barnes who coached the under-18s, will be using 2007 as motivation this weekend.
The Seagulls threw away a seemingly match-winning lead to go down to Mullumbimby in a heart-breaking final five minutes.
But against Ghosts this Sunday things will be different.
“Ghosts have everything to lose,” Barnes said.
“They are the ones with the perfect record, they are chasing the Clayton Cup (for best club in NSW country rugby league), they have won all the awards; the grand final is theirs to lose.”
True. But Ballina still has to win it.