Byron centre Noel ‘Hairy Legs’ King skirts the Lower Clarence defence at Red Devil park on Sunday.
Whether Byron Bay has turned the corner after indifferent early season form is yet to be confirmed, but the 38-4 defeat of Lower Clarence on Sunday augers well for their run to the NRRRL play-offs.
Wintry conditions kept the number of loyalists at Red Devil Park to an estimated 3,992, but those who turned up in their hoodies and thermal undies were treated to some punishing and pretty footy from the home side.
The previous week’s romp at South Grafton had clearly buoyed the boys’ spirits at a crucial juncture and a game against a lesser opponent was just what the doctor ordered to oil the mechanisms and boost confidence – rugby league is an unforgiving sport that does not encourage those without self-belief. The Devils, if still far from faultless, are beginning to display the cohesion and the mongrel that will be needed to challenge the comp’s heavyweights when the glittering prize is on offer.
After the sin-binning of two players in the reggies for shoulder charges, the ref penalised Hemi ‘Sphere’ Mullen for a similar offence before patrons had returned to their seats from the bar. Soon after, hooker Peter ‘Bloodnut’ Gordon nailed a 40/20 and from the scrum Noel ‘Hairy Legs’ King put winger Scott ‘Brazilian’ Stapleton over in the corner. Joseph ‘Peter and’ Gordon’s beautiful conversion gave the Devils an early lift and when Mullen surged on to a Sam ‘Bob’ Dwyer off-load to make it 10-nil the writing was on the wall. No team, after only twelve minutes, can have trudged back to half-way with the reluctance of the Magpies.
Byron would win, it was clear, but it was not so much their scoring potential that intrigued as the application that they’d show to defending their line. Attack wins Oscars, but defence gets you home when the blow-torch is being applied.
In front of a mob of hanging judges who’d made the trip from Maclean, the ref gave the visitors every opportunity, but Byron’s tackling withstood all that was thrown at them while play was camped in their twenty.
Finally securing possession, stalwart prop Simon ‘Toothless’ Kelly rumbled over and Noel King took an intercept to sprint sixty metres to give the Devils a 22-0 half-time lead.
Straight after the break, an ‘early! early!’ call came from the men on the eastern side of the park as the ball was played on the western. Quick hands got the pill to Stapleton who sprinted away before lobbing a sweetly placed kick infield for Noel King to notch a try of delightful fluidity.
Staring defeat in the face, Lower called ‘cattle dog’ and things got willing. When it was put to them, the Devils responded in kind, with Chris ‘the Soul Train’ Coleman being binned for his forthrightness.
Chris ‘BB’ King and Stapleton concluded the scoring for Byron before Lower saved face their sole try – if you make the effort, you don’t deserve to get done to nil.
The Devils are at home to Casino on Sunday. Check ‘em out. They’re on a roll.