Celebrating 100 years of Rugby League in Byron Bay at the weekend, the Red Devils hosted Lismore’s Marist Brothers in warm winter sunshine on Sunday.
The Bay Under-18s were defeated in the final moments, but luck was running with the senior teams, who both posted wins on a perfect afternoon for footie.
Reserve Grade had a fairly even first half, with good progress by the Devils’ forwards aiding limited backline raids, but in the later stages such raids became scoring opportunities with the Reggies victorious to the tune of 34–16.
The A Grade match began with both sides unable to breach the opposition defence.
Byron enjoyed a slight breeze advantage defending the northern end but after 20 minutes it was the visitors posting first points with an unconverted try in the corner.
Indeed, the Devils appeared to be struggling with the speed of the ruck and at this point the brethren appeared to be on top.
It was not until 25 minutes into the game that Byron seemed to settle into any sort of rhythm or complete their sets of six.
After Byron kicked long downfield, Marist Brothers inexplicably dropped the ball ‘cold as a spud’ just 20 metres out, and the regained possession resulted in the first Devils’ try to William King, which was converted by Billy Goldsmith.
The Devils now led 6–4. The few remaining first-half minutes allowed the Bay to settle somewhat, and at the break both sides appeared evenly matched, despite the Devils’ ordinary completion rate of just 45 per cent stacked against 60 per cent plus by the brethren.
At the resumption, the score at 6–4 in favour of the Devils was not enough to inspire confidence.
The Brothers were now running with that slightly favourable wind and it looked as though the local boys would need plenty of application.
This much-needed application was realised in spades, however, as William ‘Billy’ King scored the first of his five second-half tries, giving the Byron faithful a treat of speed and skill second to none in regional Rugby League.
With the conversion making it 12–4 and Hemi Mullen charging like a wounded bull, a Brothers’ front-rower was sin-binned for repeated indiscretions in the play of the ball.
This allowed for more free running by the Devils with Leon Kelly going in shortly thereafter to make it 16–4. A great intercept by (yes, you guessed it) William King resulted in his third try of the day and from that point onwards it was the Bay all day!
Score now 22–4. The Brothers showed some resistance when their rangy centre raced clear to score after receiving a pass made in heaven, but such resistance was short lived as ‘King William’ zigged and zagged repeatedly to eventually give the outside pass and again receive it after doubling around for a ball with ‘try’ written all over it.
The conversion made it 28–8 to the Devils. With 10 to go, the King put on another two tries (converted) to complete his astonishing performance of six tries in the match.
The final score was 40–8, the vociferous local hecklers were happy chappies, and the fat lady had sung before the final whistle.
Go the Bay!
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