Redmen back to the winner's circle
RUGBY UNION: The Grafton Redmen kept their top-four aspirations alive with a gutsy 31-7 victory over the SCU Gold Rats on Saturday.
And it was that man Dwayne Duke who once again stole the show scoring a double and laying on another for winger Luke Worthing.
Duke was up to his eyeballs in everything that looked dangerous.
The rampaging centre scored the opening try, then after leaving three defenders in his wake, threw a peach of a pass for Worthing to score Grafton's second under the uprights.
And he wasn't done yet. Just minutes after the break, Duke swooped on a short-kick off from the Students to race away for a 60m five-pointer and in doing so put the result beyond doubt.
Grafton were at fever pitch from the outset and went to the sheds with a comfortable 21-0 lead. However apart from two quick tries early in the second-half bad habits crept into their game.
To the visitors credit they stopped the hemorrhaging at the back end of the game but they too fell foul of far too many mistakes.
It may have been a case of putting the cue in the rack, but concerns still remain over Grafton's ability to secure the ball at the breakdown and limit the unforced errors.
"We lost a bit of momentum in the second half and it became a bit scrappy,” Redmen captain Kyle Hancock said after the game.
"In fact, it has been a scrappy performance from us the past three weeks. We're slowly building and getting better at some aspects of our game but we need to improve.
"We are coming into a run of games where we play some of the better teams in the competition, so we need to get our act together or slip further down the ladder.”
Hancock was full of praise for Duke's performance along with his partner in crime Jake Harris.
"We certainly have the firepower out wide through Dukey and Jake,” he said.
"They're both dangerous players so we try to give them the ball as much as possible.”
Grafton's powerful forward trio of Tom Tanner, Billy Whalan and Ed McGrath were dynamic on the edges with Tanners copybook tackling style a highlight.
Although going down 29-14 to Kyogle, Grafton produced their best performance of the season in President's Cup with playmaker Jamie Cousemacker leading the way.
Grafton will now turn their attention to Bangalow in round 9 of the Coopers Far North Coast rugby competition.