A week is a long time in sport. After enjoying a record-breaking 78–0 win against Southern Cross University, Byron Bay rugby came back to Earth with a 53–10 loss to Lennox Head on Saturday. The loss put Byron back to fifth, one point behind Grafton after five rounds.
The 12-try romp against the students was the biggest win by the Bay in First Grade and Jash Saek’s 33-point haul was an individual point-scoring record for the club.
The stage was set for the Bay to repeat their heroics of last season but it was the Trojans who gained some consolation for their season-ending loss to Byron last season.
The line speed and ferocity of defence was of Grand Final intensity in the opening 10 minutes. Byron settled into their structure and did look the better side early. The only way to make ground was close to the ruck and when Byron moved within sight of the try line it was Welsh juggernaut Aaron ‘Shakey’ Shakeshaft who barreled over for the first try.
As was the case last season Byron’s playing squad lacks depth but not quality. Within minutes of the opening score, towering second-rower Ryan Betts was forced from the field and when Rob Lynch followed with damaged ribs the momentum was lost. Byron’s scrum disintegrated and the Trojan’s outstanding back row put too much pressure on Byron’s inside backs.
We will never know what might have happened had Betts and Lynch remained on the field but with confidence ebbing the Bay were simply outclassed on the day. Winger Ben Macnee scored a consolation try for Byron in the second half from a well-worked short-side play from Craig Wallace and Shakehaft. The pair were again among Byron’s best along with fullback Saek.
It was a difficult afternoon for headline player Wallace, whose birthday celebration was somewhat marred by the result.
The Bay will hope to return to winning ways at home this Saturday against Casino. In an intriguing Round Six the form teams Wollongbar Alstonville and Lismore meet while Grafton hosts fellow top four contenders Ballina. More will be known about the Bay’s title prospects next week. There is talk of high calibre mid-season recruits and Byron remains in striking distance of a finals campaign.
Go the Bay!