The Red Devils’ rampaging second-rower, Hemi Mullen puts the fear of God into the Rebels’ defence at South Grafton on Sunday.
No sporting contest can ever be taken for granted – otherwise why would we bother to play them? But inevitably, there are footy games for which any ambitious team will have quietly banked the competition points beforehand.
The Byron Bay Red Devils travelled to McKittrick Park on the banks of the mighty Clarence River to take on lowly South Grafton knowing that anything less than a handsome victory would have drawn an ignominious curtain on their NRRRL campaign. Floundering mid-table and mixing their season with rather less sublime than ridiculous, the Devils re-established their credentials with an efficient, at times scintillating 58-16 victory.
On a lovely sunny arvo, nearly as many locals watched from outside the wire fence as were basking on the southern hill. The home side got off to a flyer, creating a two-man overlap that resulted in their centre going over untouched for an alarmingly easy try. If the Bay were harbouring any sense of complacency they were rudely shaken out of it. They immediately extracted the digit and within no time it was obvious that they were fitter, faster, better drilled and more skillful than their hosts. And they were on a mission.
Like a tattooed hunk of granite, prop Brett ‘Choc’ Harvey took a quick tap from a penalty and tore through the ruck on a blistering fifty-metre run that led to Joseph Gordon notching the first of the Bay’s eleven tries.
The Red Devils were all smiles at South Grafton last Sunday.
In the next set from the kick-off, follically nude Duane ‘Drano’ Cahill did what all good backs do to capitalize on a forward’s excellent lead-up, scoring after the demolition work of heavily involved Hemi ‘Sphere’ Mullen. The Devils had assumed a dominance that was never to be threatened.
Harvey, lock Sam ‘Bob’ Dwyer, collecting a gorgeous one-armed pass from Mick ‘Twiggy’ Lambert as he headed for the deck, and Noel ‘the Eye’ King, all added to the Rebels’ misery before Byron went to the break with a deserved 26-6 lead.
Having established their superiority, what we needed to see from the Devils was an intimation of the killer within them – you don’t win comps by resting on your laurels and thinking that the world will fall at your feet.
Coming off the bench, mercurial centre Chris ‘BB’ King, in a welcome return after breaking his arm, ran seventy metres following the resumption to make it apparent that the men in red were hungry for more points. The Rebels threw a Spaniard in the works when, as they’d managed earlier, they found a gaping overlap out wide to register their second try, but it was only a glitch in the Bay’s controlled performance.
The King brothers got a couple more tries between them, Fraser ‘Fletcher’ Jones was rewarded with one, while Harvey, impersonating a kamikaze pilot in footy boots, racked up a well-earned hat-trick to take the Devils past their half-century. Only a desperate last-ditch tackle stopped replacement hooker Reece ‘iMoo’ Egan from pushing the Bay’s score into the sixties.
The Devils are at home next Sunday to Lower Clarence. Their resurgence must continue. Go back them up.