Seagulls no match for Ghosts

BALLINA coach Brian Battese may have been resigned to defeat before the match began but his Seagulls put up a fair fight before eventually being overrun 40-10 by Grafton Ghosts in the NRRRL pre-season Charity Shield final yesterday.

His Seagulls trailed just 14-6 after an intense first half but couldn’t keep pace as the Ghosts hit their straps in the second 40.

Regardless, the Ballina Rugby League Club collected $3000 to add to the coffers ahead of the regular season which begins next weekend.

But the big news on the day was a tale that rocked the Ghosts as a club before a ball had been kicked.

Two former Ghosts juniors, Nathan Chapman and Kyle Clifford, were tragically killed in a car accident in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Ghosts coach Col Speed was pleased to win the match but the victory was overshadowed by the loss which saw a handful of players pull out of the game.

“A lot of people don’t see what goes on behind the scenes,” Speed said.

“We had five players out due to unfortunate circumstances; some guys react differently.”

“Some players deal with it by wanting to get out on the field and play while others don’t.”

The game itself never reached any great heights but the premiership favourites dug deep to record the win with half and captain Ryan Farrell calling the shots.

Ballina’s ability to up the tempo through their line speed in the opening stanza kept the Ghosts from getting in a rhythm and kept the score close.

Speed was full of praise for the Seagulls defensive line in the first half.

“I thought Ballina dominated us in the first half with their defence but it was pleasing to see the guys stick together in the second half, particularly with the tragedy that happened,” he said.

The Ghosts ran riot after the break, making inroads on the Seagulls edges.

Ghosts’ big-name players Aaron Hartman, Anthony Don and Farrell caused all sorts of problems for Ballina resulting in a hat-trick to winger Aaron Taylor.

In the play-off for third and fourth Grafton Rhinos and Murwillumbah stalemated at 34-all.

In the under-18s final, a tragedy-stricken Ghosts side fielded just 12 players but rallied to defeat Murwillumbah 24-16.

Cudgen grabbed third spot in the other under-18s match with a nail-biting 15-12 defeat of Lower Clarence.

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