Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Ghosts Upset at Home in Last-Minute Thriller; Sawtell Panthers Send Clear Message to Group 2 in 24-22 Win

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Ghosts Upset at Home in Last-Minute Thriller; Sawtell Panthers Send Clear Message to Group 2 in 24-22 Win

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Elkerton matthew.elkerton@dailyexaminer.com.au

RUGBY LEAGUE: Sawtell Panthers pulled off the unthinkable at Frank McGuren Field, and in the process sent a message to the rest of Group 2.

The Panthers refused to be denied against the Grafton Ghosts, scoring a last-minute try to clinch victory 24-22 in a thrilling clash.

Already missing Dylan Collett, Joel Moss and Adam Slater, it was danger signs early for the Ghosts with Blake Winmill leaving the field inside the first five minutes of the game with a suspected broken collarbone.

Sawtell Panthers were quick out of the blocks in the first half, with their forward pack led by Asalemo Usumanu bending the Ghosts' defensive line.

Cheap penalties for holding too long in the tackle and pulling a leg hurt the Ghosts, as they gifted the Panthers field position.

Former South Grafton Rebels junior Austin Cooper was one of the Panthers' best in the opening stanza, using his physicality to cause havoc for opposite number Cameron Stewart.

Cooper was the first to bother the scorers after a short-side raid saw the Panthers centre carry four defenders to the line before managing the impossible and slamming the ball down on the line.

With no football at the right end of the field, the excess amounts of tackles were beginning to hurt the Grafton side, but they soon found an answer.

The Ghosts muscled up in attack, with Danny Wicks and Ben McLennan punching through the centre, and when the ball went to ground on second phase play it was Jake Frame who responded first.

The Ghosts halfback dived on the loose ball, and cut back on the inside to beat his opposite number and score Grafton's first try of the season at Frank McGuren Field.

But it was short-lived excitement for the Ghosts, with Sawtell marching up the field again the next time they got the ball.

The Ghosts' right-edge defence was struggling to contain the Panthers' big men and the visitors continued to take full advantage of their size difference.

A short-side kick play resulted in another try to the Panthers through second-rower Jordan Cavannah-Hayward.

But again the Ghosts found a way to hit back on the scoreboard, levelling the game after winger Mitch Gorman benefited from more broken field play. …

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