Three second-half tries to Brett ‘the Step’ Kelly (after already notching three for the reggies) in Byron’s 42–22 victory over Lower Clarence in their Round 12 NRRRL clash left us in no doubt as to the worth of this recent acquisition by the club.
Those of us who can remember when Brett was a kid collecting the Steedens from the outer for the big boys have always hoped that the dynamic fullback would one day pull on the red-and- black jersey of the Bay. His first grade tally was on top of three tries in reserve grade, which the Red Devils won 48–22.
Saturday night was cold enough to freeze the brass off a bald monkey, which is probably why the crowd at Red Devil Park didn’t get past an estimated 2,776. Those who did brave the chill would have been delighted by the home side’s second straight victory.
By no stretch could it be described as a classic game of rugby league, but the manner in which the Devils stuck to their guns and, in the end, ran away with it was most encouraging. It was tough, and it was real.
The first forty was highlighted by a blistering 70-metre run to the line by Billy ‘the Lion’ King (who really did go too far with a #1 haircut during the week), a typically determined try to non-stop Martin ‘Liam’ Gallagher and a four pointer to the ageless back-rower, Peter ‘Clondike’ Flannery.
The Bay’s 16–10 lead was fair enough but not far enough. When Lower leveled the scores immediately after the resumption, the visitors seemed to get it in their heads that they could go on with it and snatch the two priceless competition points.
Gallagher plunged over for his second after a surging run from Scott ‘Debonair’ Stapleton and Kelly jagged his way across to give Byron a 26–16 lead. But the Magpies persisted, and, with their well-drilled short-passing, ball-alive game, they kept us all on the razor’s edge.
Everything changed when hooker Tom ‘Deano’ Martin was decked by a late shoulder charge. Tempers flared and, after the penalty, Willo ‘Jesse’ James copped a blatant head-high. And if you have ever been to the footy, you will know that there is nothing like a bit of needle to get the watching mob involved.
The crowd, who have not had a lot to cheer about this season, found their voice and Byron lifted.
Gallagher put Kelly away for his second try and Adam ‘Ant’ Gordon delivered an exquisite off-load to James, who ran on to it at full pelt to score untouched.
Appropriately, the best was saved till last, when, from a scrum win on half-way, Kelly chipped and chased. ‘Run Forest, run’ the crowd yelled as the dashing fullback put on the afterburners. There was never any doubt that he would get the perfect bounce and score the most thrilling of tries.
Winning is all about confidence. The Red Devils have it at last. Get on the train.
The Byron Bay women’s tag team set the winning tone when they beat the Magpies 48–0. Photo Leesa Kilduff