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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Play-offs loom for hot and cold Devils after derby victory

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Byron winger Bill ‘the Lawman’ Lowrie dives for the line, but the touchie ruled that he had put his little toe on the sideline.

John Campbell

With thirty seconds remaining in Sunday’s NRRRL clash between Byron Bay and Mullumbimby, the PA announced that the Red Devils’ prop, Michael Lambert, could return to the field. He’d been binned for giving the ref lip. To nobody’s surprise, Lambert declined the invitation. Like the rest of us, he just wanted to go home. It was that sort of game.

As local derbies go, the anticipated blood and thunder was minimal. Nor was the outcome at any time in serious doubt. Despite the urgings from the disgruntled mob on the eastern hill, it ended not with a bang but a whimper.

Under a cloudy sky and before an estimated 4,411 partisans, Byron ran out winners by 34-10, leaving them precariously perched on the edge of the top five, but with their fate in their own hands. Mullum’s season was gone before kick-off and their performance, though never disinterested, betrayed a creeping futility. Neither side was at full strength, which also detracted from the occasion.

The Red Devils looked as sharp as a tack to begin with. Chris ‘BB’ King nailed a 40/20 in the first set and not longer after he put second-rower Joseph Gordon away on a 50-metre sprint to the line. Half-back Jared De Thierry scored an easy try and Byron were ahead 10-0 in as many minutes. It looked a question of ‘by how far?’, but the Giants’ doughty second-rower, Jake ‘Cobar’ Francisco, pulled one back by bullocking his way through flimsy defence to put the visitors on the board.

Led by old hands Francisco, captain Dan Molenaar and Robbie ‘Crazy’ Goodacre, the Giants were direct and conventional but not very threatening. The Devils, thinking they might have a cakewalk awaiting them, started playing like the crazy gang. Intensity dropped and when Gordon put ‘Toothless’ Simon Kelly in the writing was most assuredly on the wall.

A highlight of the first forty came when winger Bill ‘the Lawman’ Lowrie took an intercept to defuse a Mullum raid. He unleashed the backburners and headed north for the line. Only trouble was the cover was quicker and by the time they caught up with him Lowrie was treading water like a banana in pyjamas. Whatever pace he’s lost, though, has been made up for with nous and his return was a welcome positive for the Bay.

Byron adjourned to oranges with a 20-4 lead after hooker Tim Foster, another strong performer, charged from dummy-half to carry three with him over the line.

An injured Kelly did not resume hostilities, De Thierry was lost soon after the resumption with a bung leg and Mullum’s Jack Govett, in the unfamiliar position of centre, swooped on a loose ball in goal to make it 20-10. But any thought of a comeback was dispelled when the Devils produced the try of the match.

Chris ‘the Soul Man’ Coleman charged into the ruck like a man who knows he has only one burst left in him before he calls for the nurse. King was on his shoulder to take an exquisite off-load and take the cross-country route to the distant corner. He got there with brilliant speed and evasiveness.

Young winger Rex Sheavils was rewarded with a four-pointer before King grubbered and re-gathered to close the book on a game of only sporadic hostilities.

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