MAKING AN IMPRESSION: Liam Bloomer (centre) celebrates with his Grafton Ghosts teammates in a reserve grade win over the South Grafton Rebels earlier this year. Bloomer was dubbed best on ground in his first grade debut.
MAKING AN IMPRESSION: Liam Bloomer (centre) celebrates with his Grafton Ghosts teammates in a reserve grade win over the South Grafton Rebels earlier this year. Bloomer was dubbed best on ground in his first grade debut. Adam Hourigan

Bloomer steps up for Ghosts as youngsters shine through

RUGBY LEAGUE: When the Grafton Ghosts' first grade side were told they'd be getting a 'meat tray', long-haired youngster Liam Bloomer might not have been the first thing that came to mind.

The former Ghosts junior stepped up to the first grade side in an important 22-10 win over the Macksville Sea Eagles on Saturday and despite the unusual nickname, Clint Greenshields was impressed with his efforts.

"He was our best player and was rightfully given players' player,” Greenshields said.

"He's a very tough kid, and geez, he can run.”

Grafton went into the game without key men Mitch Lollback, Matt Muller and Cooper Woods but Bloomer along with some fellow rising stars filled the gaps.

"It was a tough slog that's for sure, we were down a few familiar faces but the guys that stepped into those positions did really well,” he said.

"Jake Martin came up on the wing and he was phenomenal, every time he picked the ball up he got a quick play-the-ball and used his footwork well. He's going to be a really handy footballer with a promising future.”

The Ghosts secured a home qualifying final with the win to set up two Grafton derbys at Frank McGuren Field in two weeks' time.

"It's always nice to play on your home ground not only as players but it's also good for the club financially,” he said.

Greenshields said the Macksville clash was a hard game with the officials making some tough calls but praised his side's resolve under difficult circumstances.

"We had a lot of 50-50 calls that didn't go our way, we had a guy sent off for 10 after two penalties for high shots which weren't really called for,” he said.

"We showed some real resilience when things weren't going our way and the boys just dug in and got the job done and I'm proud with the way we handled it, in the past that has been our downfall.”

Greenshields said the victory had been soured by an incident late in game that saw backrower Ben McLennan injured and taken to hospital at the conclusion of the match.

Greenshields called upon officials and administrators of rugby league in the region to be more wary of players welfare both on and off the field of play.