Mustangs' comeback earns home final
THE return of second-rower Luke Covell and centre Michael Keating paid dividends for Murwillumbah when they beat Grafton Ghosts 24-22 in the NRRRL major semi-final at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah, yesterday.
Trailing 22-2, the Mustangs laid on four unanswered tries to snatch victory courtesy of a short ball from Covell to Keating for the match-winner.
Grafton were seething after the timekeepers kept the clocking running in injury time in the last minute.
It would have been unlikely to make a difference as the Mustangs had a full set of six up their sleeves.
"We lost about a minute-and-a-half at the end but there isn't much we can do about it now," Grafton captain-coach Ryan Farell said.
"You can't blame the ref; the timekeepers should have had that one under control."
As everyone on the field and in the crowd watched on the referee had no choice but to call full-time as a sea of Murwillumbah supporters stormed the field as if the home side had just won the grand final.
"I really don't know how we were able to come back from that deficit but, wow, what an effort," Murwillum-bah coach Troy McLean said.
"I can't speak highly enough of the boys in coming come back against a quality side like that. Keating in that last 20 minutes was awesome and Covell made a big difference."
Murwillumbah's only points in the first half came through Covell when he nailed a penalty goal after the siren from 40 metres out.
When Grafton centre Aaron Hartmann scored two tries to give Ghosts a 20-point buffer in the second half, even the staunchest Mustangs supporter wouldn't have backed them.
Tries to second-rower Tim James and centre Damian Quinn got the ball rolling before the grandstand finish.
"No excuses, we definitely should have won that considering we were ahead by 20 points," Farrell said.
MURWILLUMBAH 24 - Damian Quinn 2, Tim James, Michael Keating tries; Luke Covell 4 goals
GRAFTON GHOSTS 22 - Aaron Hartmann 2, Dan Lollback, Joel Moss tries; Ryan Danvers 3 goals