If you were told that the Byron Bay Red Devils had three tries disallowed in their NRRRL clash with Casino on Saturday, you’d likely get the impression that they were unlucky to lose.
However that was not the case for, yet again, the boys brought the defeat upon themselves with a second-half display that went from bad to worse.
Wintery conditions kept the crowd to an estimated 2982, but those who rugged up to support the team would have been cheered by a first forty minutes that saw Byron take a lead of 10–8 to the sheds.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was tough and uncompromising. Byron looked the goods after tries to winger Joey ‘the hair bear’ McCarthy, who can always be relied upon to give 110 per cent, and five-eighth Corey ‘Ewan’ McGrady.
They were playing with purpose and commitment, giving no hint of the disintegration that awaited them.
Casino returned from the break to run in 21 points to zip that said more about the Devils’ decline than it did the Cougars’ effort, which was only workmanlike at best.
It started promisingly enough. On the back of some terrific defence, Scott ‘Debonair’ Stapleton crossed for what could have been a crucial try, but the ref said no and in the blinking of an eye Casino went ahead with a four-pointer from a scrum win that looked way too easy. The slide had begun.
The Devils’ ball retention was poor, their kicking game was awful, they were too often bunched in attack and seemed bereft of ideas to counter Casino’s more focused effort.
The other mob grew in confidence while Byron started to run around like headless chooks.
And there is no point in whingeing about what impact the whistleblower may have had on proceedings.
Had the Red Devils maintained the rage to repeat in the second half what they had done in the first, it would have been a different story. But they didn’t, and they only have themselves to blame.