Winning doesn’t always come easy at Red Devil Park


Byron’s Scott Stapleton probing the Evans Head defence at Red devil Park on Sunday. Photo John Campbell

Byron were expected to beat Evans Head in their NRRRL clash on Sunday, and they more or less went through the motions in satisfying everybody’s expectations.

It was a game in which they barely got out of cruise-control and, as so often happens, the team that had been in command throughout found itself on the razor’s edge in the last five minutes, desperately trying to deny the visitors a draw.

Three wins on the trot have now injected the Red Devils’ campaign with a genuine belief that they will be in the mix when the finals are being fought out, but if the titanic victory over Mullumbimby was proof of their steel, the 24–18 result against the Bombers only highlighted a nagging tendency to go daydreaming before the full-time siren. That they couldn’t buy a goal in scoring five tries to three also did nothing to alleviate the pressure that grew in the later stages.


Byron’s young second-rower, Lachlan Jones, is collared by the Evans Head defence. Photo John Campbell.

On a muggy arvo, in front of a crowd in the vicinity of 3,444, the Devils found touch from the kick-off and in the set following the scrum Simon ‘Canine’ Kelly took a rapidly fired pass from dummy half to storm over next to the sticks.

There followed what must be one of the weirdest tries in the history of weird tries … From Evans Head’s resumption, fullback Scott ‘Julio’ Stapleton attempted to trap the ball with his boot, only to see it ricochet like a rocket back towards an approaching Bomber who, dumbfounded by his luck, spilt the pill directly in front of Stapleton, who (wearing #18 after some joker had nicked his #1) then sprinted seventy metres to the tryline. A cricket score loomed.

The Bombers pulled one back when their hooker burrowed through, but a brilliant step and fend from whiplash centre William ‘Doctor’ King saw him race away for a terrific individual try and a 14–6 Devils’ lead. At which point a little niggle raised its head when the Bombers’ #14 exchanged unpleasantries with the Bay’s shy and retiring Hemi ‘Sphere’ Mullen.

Joseph ‘General’ Gordon, who is in stellar form, delivered a lovely one-hander to winger Fraser ‘Fletcher’ Jones and an 18–6 half-time advantage seemed fair enough.

Everything went according to script after the break – Ben ‘Spider’ Webber was rewarded with a four-pointer after his own brilliant 40/20, but none of us could know that, at 24/6, the Bay would not again bother the ledger.


Crash or crash through – Byron’s tireless prop, Simon Kelly, prepares for impact. Photo John Campbells.

At no point had Evans turned it up and, while the Old Bloke distracted us all with concerns about his sexual performance, the Bombers drew back to 24–12.  The Bay’s frivolous indulgences opened the door enough for the Bombers’ desperate directness to get them back to 24–18 with five long minutes to go. They were, to be sure, coming home with a wet sail.

The Devils are to be commended for the urgency with which they saw out the closing stages – their defence is well organised and quick to respond to potential danger – but the Bombers were only prevented from sharing the spoils by a couple of wayward passes that might have put their winger over in the corner.

Saturday’s road-trip to Kyogle will offer no such comforts for the men in red.




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