Story & photo John Campbell
The Red Devils were dead and buried.
With less than two minutes on the clock and Mount Warning looming dourly on the horizon, the boys were trailing the Murwillumbah Mustangs by 30–26 in the knockout semi. Trapped deep in their own half, the season was as good as gone.
With one last, valiant rally, the ball was flung wide to Chris ‘BB’ King. A talisman in the Bay’s backline, the big centre launched himself on a spine-tingling burst down the sideline. The cover neared and, with brother Bill ‘the Lion’ King screaming up in support, Chris kicked ahead. The race for the ball, as it bounced towards the Mustangs’ line, was not a race at all – Bill, like Black Caviar, showed everybody a clean pair of heels. Keeping his head as the pill wobbled up and down, he took it cleanly and planted it next to the uprights. It was a breathtaking climax to a see-sawing battle.
William ‘Peppi’ Goldsmith’s conversion was a formality, and the Devils’ 32–30 victory has carried them deeper into the NRRRL play-offs. They are now one win away from a grand-final berth.
Earlier indications were that the Bay might do it in a canter.
It was the men in red who had the first crack at their opponents’ line. In Mur’bah’s twenty, five-eighth Jared ‘Monsieur’ DeThierry feigned to chip but instead zigged and zagged until he saw King (BB) in a bit of space. Chris took thee defenders with him as he bustled over.
Soon after, the Devils were in again when the energetic young lock, Sam ‘Dolly’ Dwyer, went in under the sticks. With their boys ahead 12–0, the red faction of the crowd was in cheery spirits. But such easy dominance was never likely to last – and it didn’t.
The Mustangs finally roused themselves from their sloth, and aided by penalties (the Bay took a caning from the ref), they began to grind their way back into the contest.
Mur’bah brought it back to 12–10, but just as the Devils appeared to be wilting, the Kings struck a telling blow. Chris sent Bill on an 80-metre dash to the line and, leading 18–10, the mood in the sheds would have been of relief rather than cockiness.
The second forty was out of character with what preceded it.
Though trailing, it was the hosts who stormed the barricades with the clear belief that the game was theirs to be won. The Devils’ defence, always diehard, suddenly looked vulnerable and when they did get their man they were incapable of killing the ball.
Peter ‘Facebook’ Flannery scored from a James ‘Buddha’ Griffiths offload, but Mur’bah drew level at 22-all when their hooker – an annoying fellow who continually made bursts from dummy-half – strolled through the ruck to put one of his forwards in next to the posts.
Hemi ‘Sphere’ Mullen won the scramble for a chip over the line to score, but the Devils did not have the wherewithal to cope with the predictable short restart and the Mustangs got the try that put them, seemingly, in an unassailable position as the sun was setting on the Bay’s season… but they didn’t count on the heroics of the King brothers.
Next Sunday, Byron travel to duelling banjos country to take on the Kyogle Turkeys. It’s their last hurdle as they stride towards the grand final.
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