HUNT FOR GLORY: Redmen aim to avenge grand final heartbreak
RUGBY UNION: Grafton Redmen second grade side is ready to exorcise their grand final demons after last year's humiliating 41-0 loss to Hastings Valley Vikings.
The Redmen will once again face off against their nemesis for the Mid North Coast Rugby title at Oxley Oval Port Macquarie tomorrow.
And according to their coach Gary Wilson, last year's grand final capitulation is still at the forefront of his players' minds.
"The boys have got a score to settle in terms of last year's defeat in the grand final,” Wilson said during the week.
"The voodoo that was attached to Hastings on their home ground was broken by us in round 12 which proves they can be beaten on their hallowed turf.
"Last year's loss is still fresh in the minds of the players and they are very committed to not allowing that result to happen again.”
Wilson has been forced to make several changes to his backline with winger Sam Connor and centres Kyle Pera and Tyson Donohue succumbing to injury.
That said, the Redmen have plenty of quality players to fill the void.
"Sam leaves a big whole in our backline and Tyson will miss out through a hamstring injury,” Wilson said.
"We have more than enough to cover those guys and everyone else we are taking into the game is fit and ready to rock.”
Grafton's new-look backline is loaded with experience. Centres Jon Chevalley and Scott Lloyd form a formidable partnership while at the back Adam Smidt has been in career best form.
"Jono (Chevalley) brings a lot to our team aside from his playing ability. He brings a lot of experience, drive and passion,” Wilson said.
"He has a big presence on the field and gets the job done.”
Last time the two sides met Vikings exposed chinks in the Redmen's defence with their powerful forward pack leading the way. However, if Grafton can produce the same defensive effort they showed against Kempsey Cannonballs last week a premiership title is not out of reach.
"We defended 26 phases in a row against Kempsey which showed plenty of character,” Wilson said.
"It showed determination and drive from our team. We've placed a lot of emphasis on our line defence during the finals series.”
Several players including president Sean Austin will be hoping for a fairytale ending after deciding to hang up the boots after the grand final.
1. Luke Deleiuen, 2. Sean Austin, 3. Angus McDonald, 4. Guy Robertson (c), 5. Beau Deleiuen (vc), 6. Cody Reti, 7. Ben McIver, 8. Codie Hearfield, 9. Darcy Crispin, 10. Nathan McPherson, 11. Jayden Reti, 12. Jon Chevalley, 13. Scott Lloyd, 14. Ryan Spies, 15. Adam Smidt, 16. Kyle Pera, 17. Jacob Page, 18. Adam Thompson, 19. Brennon Lavery, 20. John Want, 21. Adam Crawley, 22. Brenden Cotten, 23. Ben O'Bree, Coach: Gary Wilson