Story and photo John Campbell
When the referee pings you for overstepping the mark from the kick-off, you can’t help feeling that it is not going to be your day.
It’s one of those officious, ‘look at me’ penalties that could be blown nine times out of ten, but when it leads to a last-tackle try against the home side within the first couple of minutes, it makes you wonder: have we come to see the players or the whistleblower?
This is exactly what happened to Byron Bay when they hosted Marist Brothers (Lismore) at Red Devil Park last Sunday in their round three clash of the NRRRL.
On a wintery afternoon, with the crowd not quite mounting to the gate-ladies’ anticipated 12,000, the Devils got done to the tune of 34–12.
It was a scoreline that in no way reflected the toughness of the contest or, until the later stages, the closeness.
Behind 12–0 after a couple more dodgy ref’s calls, Scott ‘Debonair’ Stapleton put the bit between his teeth and barged over for the Devils.
On the back of a couple of penalties, the Papists scored again, but when the Bay’s Tom ‘Deano’ Martin burrowed through from dummy-half to reduce the Brothers’ lead at the break to only a converted try, the momentum was with the Bay and anything seemed possible.
But Byron didn’t register another point after the resumption. And they have no-one to blame but themselves.
At every opportunity they fell flat and not because the Marists’– defence was too good, but because the Bay’s attack was headless and without direction.
Newcomers to the side, five-eighth Matt ‘Reg’ Hundy and tireless lock Matt ‘Liam’ Gallagher, made stand-out contributions to the combined effort.
But until the Bay can find a way to eradicate countless simple errors the winter will be a long and fruitless one.