The Bay has asserted their dominance in Far North Coast Rugby Union once again, this time with an emphatic 34–14 win over local rivals Bangalow.
The win has all but cemented a finals berth for Byron Bay in the 2015 first grade competition as they now look to improve on their current standing of outright third on the ladder.
Going into the match both teams were suffering from a number of injuries and player unavailability; however, that did not detract from the game.
A reshuffled Byron Bay tight five was further stretched just before the game as tall timber Ryan Betts succumbed to a groin strain during the warm-up.
The pain of the loss was only short-lived as the familiar face of Matt Larson was quick to take his place in the second row.
From the kick-off both teams looked unsettled as the game was plagued by errors early on. As the game progressed the backs looked to take control with a lot of lateral ball movement putting pressure on both teams defensively out wide.
After some back-and-forth tussling Bangalow managed to grind their way into the Byron half and an error from the Bay resulted in a Bangalow scrum five metres out.
The experienced Bangalow forward pack managed to secure the ball and despite the Bay’s best efforts after a number of lengthy phases Bangalow managed to push their way over the line to draw first blood.
A successful conversion set the scores at 7–0.
From the restart Byron Bay looked much more settled. The boys in blue and white began to string a number of phases together and were beginning to look dangerous out wide.
The Bay continued to press forward and after a darting run, Jascha Saeck linked with the big winger Nick Fischer, who scored in the corner. The kick was unsuccessful and as the half-time whistle blew Bangalow had the slight edge at 7–5.
Coach Paul Jeffery’s half-time speech must have ignited a fire within the Byron side as they looked a different team in the second half. The Bay’s charge was led by Eddie O’Hare and Michael Armstrong, who were devastating with their rampageous running.
The Bay’s centre pairing of captain Harvey Bell and Jascha Saeck were able to capitalise on the back-peddling Bangalow defence as they linked up beautifully to send Jascha striding away under the posts.
This sparked an attacking flurry with Byron speedster James Oakley crossing the line twice within the space of 10 minutes. Backrowers Michael Armstrong and Craig Wallace also chipped in with a try each to secure the bonus point win for the Bay.
A late consolation try for Bangalow finished off the game with a final score line of 34–14.
Best on field for the Bay was Jascha Saeck, Harvey Bell, James Oakley and Eddie O’Hare. Players’ player went to both Eddie O’Hare and Luke Boyer, who played his final game for the Bay after one-and-a-half seasons.
The Bay faces the tough task of Grafton away this weekend. For those looking for a road trip or will be down south on Saturday feel free to show your support with a 3.15pm kick-off!
As always, Go The Bay!