Season back on course for Devils

Big Hemi Mullen forgot to take the masking tape off his calf at red Devil Park on Sunday.

Big Hemi Mullen forgot to take the masking tape off his calf at red Devil Park on Sunday.

The NRRRL competition is still only young, but Byron Bay’s 54–20 demolition of Northern United at Red Devil Park on Sunday was a much-needed return to the winner’s circle for the home side. Having fallen to last year’s grand-finalists – Murwillumbah and Ballina – in tough road trips, the boys would have been staring at a discouraging win/loss ratio of 1:3 had they not got the bickies.

Bitterly cold weather kept the crowd to an estimated 3,717, but those who braved the conditions were treated to a typically mercurial performance from the Devils, who mixed tardiness with class in what was always going to be a convincing victory.


Byron prop James Griffiths prepares for impact.

Second-rower Joseph ‘General’ Gordon scored before the ground announcer had finished reading the team lists, and the Devils were very nearly in again from the resumption after a slicing run from centre William ‘Doctor’ King. They were in a groove and it was clear that if the Bay could maintain the pace at which they were executing then United would not live with them. And so it turned out – for the most part.

Capt/Coach Ryan ‘the Crab’ O’Connell regathered after a chip inside the opposition’s twenty, passed to a rambunctious Simon ‘Nureyev’ Kelly, who stepped through the defence as though he were a principal dancer for the Bolshoi. With Jared ‘Monsieur’ De Thierry’s conversion, Byron was coasting at 10–0.

De Thierry then got a four-pointer for himself when he swept on a loose ball and raced 60 metres to score. Murder was imminent but, against the run of play, the Dirrawongs registered a simple draw-and-pass try that made locals wonder whether the Devils were about to enter one of their clocking-off phases.

Byron winger Scott Stapleton caught by his opposite at red Devil Park.

Byron winger Scott Stapleton caught by his opposite at red Devil Park.

Such concerns where dispelled when prop James ‘Buddha’ Griffiths stormed into a gap near the United line before delivering a beautiful one-handed off-load for the tyro Lachlan ‘Corporal’ Jones to scramble in under the posts.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of a few old heads, notably Don Walker, who was ball-boy when Dally Messenger was going around, the Dirrawongs dug in and were trailing by a not-humiliating 26–10 at the break after Chris ‘BB’ King, wearing odd boots, was the recipient of a fab back-handed bullet-like pass from quietly spoken Hemi ‘Sphere’ Mullen.

It had been chilly all day, but suddenly it was cold enough to freeze the brass off a bald monkey. We all rugged up and, not surprisingly, the Dirrawongs emerged from the sheds with not exactly a spring in their step.

The Old Bloke was mumbling something about what an awful place Guyra was in winter (nobody could argue) as the tireless, probing O’Connell got a deserved try and, doubtless in an effort to keep warm, a little barney erupted under the northern goalposts. Mullen and United’s angry #12 were marched for ten. From the penalty, Kelly was unstoppable in storming over the line.

Further tries to De Thierry and Chris King, who notched his hat-trick at the death, sealed what was a handsome and critical if not entirely clinical win for the Bay.

Byron’s full-back Jared De Thierry kicks on the fifth at Byron.

Byron’s full-back Jared De Thierry kicks on the fifth at Byron.

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