Story & photo John Campbell
By thumping the Evans Head Bombers, Byron Bay has inched closer to booking a place for itself in the NRRRL play-offs.
The Devils travelled south knowing that a loss to the side with whom they were running neck and neck on the ladder would be disastrous. After a string of impressive if not too demanding victories, this was a crunch game – and they’d sealed the deal with 30 still left on the clock.
The final score of 32-20 might suggest a tight struggle, but it was only heavy legs (the going was sodden underfoot) and an early punching of the bundy that allowed the home side to belatedly improve on a 32-6 deficit.
Captain Ryan ‘the Crab’ O’Connell got the ball rolling when he dived over next to the upright from dummy-half. O’Connell plays above his weight week in, week out, and his quick thinking gave the side an ideal start. But the Bombers, a tough and hungry outfit, were quick to draw level. A glut of possession saw them camped in the Devils’ half and their persistence was rewarded when their raw-boned five-eighth (he was a problem all day) found his way to the line.
Evans were pumped. The battle for ascendency in the next passage of play would be crucial to the outcome. Byron survived the onslaught and responded with a double-dose of what their hosts had dished out.
They registered three converted tries in a 15-minute spree, but the realisation of their attacking potential was built entirely on the resoluteness of their line defence. The forwards, led by ‘Toothless’ Simon Kelly, just kept turning up to block any hole and bury the ball carrier – it appears that they enjoy the challenge and thrive on each other’s commitment.
At last with a decent share of possession, the tries came fast and furious. Jared ‘Monsieur’ De Thierry, returning from his skiing jaunt in St Moritz, jinked and dummied from a scrum win before sending Scott ‘Brazilian’ Stapleton away. Hot potato passing finished with Joseph ‘General’ Gordon crossing the chalk. Livewire lock Sam ‘Bob’ Dwyer was next to score and, shortly before oranges, centre Chris ‘BB’ King swatted his opposite away like he was Louis the Fly and sprinted in to make it 22-6. Deathly silence greeted the Bombers as they skulked into the sheds.
There was no magic turnaround for the home side.
Stapleton was in after clinical lead up that had the charismatic Duane ‘Drano’ Cahill chiming into the line from full-back, followed by Noel ‘Hairy Legs’ King conjuring a try from nothing. Like the great K D Walters, Noel enjoys a quiet ciggie before entering the fray and, like the Dungog dasher, he is an enigma.
Receiving the pill from De Thierry on the touch-line and surrounded like Custer at Little Big Horn, he evaded the desperate enemy before chipping infield for himself and collecting a bizarre bounce to score a try that was rightly celebrated with wild enthusiasm by his teammates.
This Sunday, Byron take on the Grafton Ghosts in a heavyweight encounter that should not be missed.