Story & photo John Campbell
Bleak and cold and rainy. It was the sort of miserable Sunday that anybody with a modicum of common sense would have spent ensconced in front of the flat-screen watching his collection of John Wayne classics (starting with Rio Grand). But with Byron Bay making their late-season push for the NRRRL title, the true footy tragic had to be at Red Devil Park to see the boys take on Kyogle, fellow contenders who have been riding high on the ladder for longer than most pundits expected.
Conditions meant that champagne rugby league might not be on the agenda, but a devoted and ultimately delighted crowd nearing 3,714 witnessed the Bay run out 12–8 winners over a Turkeys outfit that demanded steely resolve from their hosts.
Much is written in the sports pages these days about this player or that providing the ‘X-factor’ for a team. Often it is justified, but there is an ‘X-factor’ that has been universal since Jesus was playing halfback for Jerusalem – heart. When two sides go at it with total commitment, it is not always just the skill factor, or the luck of the bounce, or the incomprehensible call of the referee that decides the issue; it is unity and commitment to a shared cause that makes the difference.
This was one tough game of football – the way we like it – and the Devils won because they refused to be beaten, because they rallied and withstood relentless and sometimes self-inflicted pressure, especially in the second forty, to deny an unstinting opponent.
Wet-weather rugby league demands control – possession, field position and a concerted kick-chase are first and foremost in any strategy. It’s not rocket surgery. Kyogle were tuned-in more quickly and scored from a wicked bomb in the fifteenth minute. Well drilled and aggressive, they appeared confident of victory. Byron needed to knock that confidence out of them in a hurry, and they did it through the heavy work of their forwards, led, as always, by Simon ‘Toothless’ Kelly. Backed up by James ‘Buddha’ Griffiths, moved to the second-row, tyros Sam ‘Dolly’ Dwyer and Lachlan ‘Don’t Panic’ Jones – who always play above their weight – and boosted by the return of Chris ‘Jawbone’ Coleman, the pack never took a backward step against a willing mob with a bit of size about them.
Fullback William ‘Peppi’ Goldsmith crossed for an uplifting try, which he converted from wide out, to give Byron the 6–4 lead that they took to the break.
Upon the resumption, Leon ‘Russell’ Kelly snaffled a try after a dribbly chip by Thierry ‘Monsieur’ DeThierry and the Devils had breathing space at 12–4. Kyogle looked done. Outclassed, they might have thought about the bus home – but good sides don’t quit so easily.
The unspeakable happened and they went in after a glut of possession. With twelve minutes remaining, 12–8 felt precarious at best for the Bay.
Unable to control the pill for any length of time, the Devils’ only recourse was to tackle their guts out. They did, and they earned a fantastic triumph.
Belief is all.
Byron are up against Marist Brothers this Sunday. Get down to Red Devil Park and share the belief with them.
Recent stories tagged NRRRL:
No splendour in the farce for NRRRL
Story and photo John Campbell Every year, the Byron Bay Red Devils ask that their bye be allocated to the weekend of Splendour in the Grass, as they are most drastically affected by absenteeism it causes. And every year, presumably... Read More →July 25, 2017 | The Echo | 0
Red Devil women undefeated in new tag-league competition
Shannon Hulbert A tag rugby league competition started a month ago in the region and the Red Devils have had three wins from three so far. The women follow the Red Devils men’s team around and play the opposition clubs... Read More →June 28, 2017 | Echonetdaily | 0
Byron Devils score big win over Mullumbimby in league derby
John Campbell The Byron Bay Red Devils enjoyed their first win of the 2017 season when they romped home against a lacklustre Mullumbimby side 36–4. As local derbies go, there was a curious lack of intensity when the Red Devils... Read More →June 28, 2017 | Echonetdaily | 0
Mustangs prepare for grand final after death of teammate
The Murwillumbah Mustangs are preparing themselves for a grand final match against Cudgen despite the death of their teammate Grant Cook during the semi-final against the Casino Cougars on Sunday afternoon.September 13, 2016 | Chris Dobney | 0
Man dies during rugby league match at Murwillumbah
Police will prepare a report for the Coroner after the death of a man during a rugby league match at Murwillumbah yesterday (Sunday September 11).September 12, 2016 | Echonetdaily | 0
So near and yet so far for Devils against comp frontrunners
Winning becomes a habit. The Evans Head Bombers, an honest but not outstanding team, have acquired it. Byron Bay’s Red Devils have gone cold turkey on it.July 7, 2016 | John Campbell | 0
Cometh the hour, cometh capitulation
My dad was a man of few words, but he had an expression: ‘what you need is a good kick up the arse’.June 30, 2016 | John Campbell | 0
Cougars’ composure in wet leaves Devils down but not bowed
All of a sudden, the threat of the wooden spoon looms larger than the prospect of a finals berth for the Byron Bay Red Devils.June 22, 2016 | John Campbell | 0
The Bay’s vital point in Red Devil cliffhanger
Footy teams strive to make a fortress of their home ground. Playing in familiar surrounds, in front of one-eyed tragics, without having to travel far and wide, is the ideal scenario in rugby league-land.June 3, 2016 | John Campbell | 0
Luck takes a back seat as Hornets sting Devils revival
It’s easy to be a smart arse after the event, isn’t it?May 25, 2016 | John Campbell | 0