Late try seals Ghosts win
GRAFTON Ghosts got out of jail with a last-minute try sealing a 24-23 victory against Northern United Dirawongs in NRRRL action at Crozier Field yesterday.
The game threatened to spiral out of control on several occasions and referee Peter O'Connor copped most of the blame.
A controversial penalty from the play-the-ball in the final minute gave Ghosts' second-rower Aaron Hartmann all the room he needed to score out wide.
Northern United Football Club manager Chris Binge was left seething at the performance of the referee and touch judges.
“It's embarrassing to see that type of performance dominate what should have been a good game,” he said.
“This was supposed to be the best game of the round and we weren't given the standard of referees that we deserve.
“I don't know everything about rugby league but everyone here today from both clubs saw how bad that was.”
The Dirawongs were going through the motions behind 10-0 midway through the first half until a late shot on five-eighth Roy Bell went unpenalised.
Tempers threatened to boil over as O'Connor let both teams ignore the 10 metres and take aim at each other.
Fullback Fred Waters scored to narrow the margin to 10-4 at half-time.
The Ghosts let the ball bounce from the resuming kick-off and second-rower Jira Breckenridge pounced on it to level things up 10-10.
A massive effort from front-rower Les Roberts gave the Dirawongs quick play-the-ball opportunities and allowed Waters to score his second.
Ahead 22-20, Bell took everyone by surprise when he nailed a field goal, adding the extra to regain possession up the other end.
The Ghosts stuck it out and never surrendered giving Hartmann some sweet revenge – he was denied a similar try against the Dirawongs that would have seen them advance further in the semi-finals back in 2009.
“Full credit to Grafton they stuck at it for the 80 minutes and that got them the result today,” Binge said.
“But that wasn't the only reason they won and I hope they realise that.
“I don't want to bag anyone from Grafton, but we were robbed of a great game of football.
“I think a lot of people in the crowd were worried about things getting out of control, I know I was.
“Ghosts need to go and have a long, hard look at themselves because if they think they're premiership contenders they would be better off looking at what we have in our shed.”
Ghosts' coach Col Speed declined to comment on the refereeing performance.
He named Hartmann and front-rower Tom Freebody as his best.
Grafton Ghosts 24
(Sam Hartmann, Mitchell Lollback, Ryan Farrell, Aaron Taylor, Aaron Hartmann tries; Taylor 2 goals)
Northern United Dirawongs 23
(Fred Waters 2, Jira Breckenridge 2; Roy Bell 3 goals, field goal)