We came expecting a tight tussle. We came hoping that the Devils, who had in recent weeks found their long overdue mojo, would let the NRRRL’s silvertails know where they could stick their ego. What we didn’t come to see was Byron sleep-walk through the first half to be trailing 36–0 at the break.
It was always going to be a big ask for the visitors. When you take to the field with half your side having already gone around for the reggies and you have only two blokes on the bench, you’re doomed to be running out of legs at some point. Losing Tom ‘Deano’ Martin and Toby ‘Spiderman’ Ryan to injury only made matters worse.
So let’s forget about the first forty. Other than to say that the boys staggered around in slo-mo like a pack of old molls who’d just drunk a flagon of cheap sherry. The Hornets were lining up to run into and beyond Byron’s defence, like a knife through butter.
The second half, however, was an entirely different story.
It will be argued by the two-heads from up that way that the Hornets took their foot off the pedal – and maybe there is an element of truth in that. But the Devils got stuck in and showed character and resolve. Nobody shirked it, but special mention must be made of Matt ‘Liam’ Gallagher and the big Pommie in the St George socks, Dominic ‘Ilkley’ Maloney in the forwards, and Joey ‘the hair bear’ McCarthy and Billy ‘the lion’ King in the backs.
King got the ball rolling with a couple of kick-chases – on the second occasion, Maradonna-like, he took it on the toe for nearly 80 metres only to be beaten by the dead ball line. Eventually he was rewarded when he took a pass out wide and cut in to cross and put the Bay on the board.
The highlight of the day came when one of the Hornets cruised in under the posts. Acting like a mug lair, he took his time in getting the ball down, only to be smashed by McCarthy, who flew at warp speed from the clouds like an avenging angel to knock the ball from his grasp and make a complete goose of him. Onya Joey!
A try on the death to captain Ryan ‘the Crab’ O’Connell, who never stops trying, was converted by Gallagher.
In any language, 42–10 is a hiding, but the Devils are no easybeats. They fight hard and would do better with a full complement of fit players who are willing to turn up and bleed for the jersey.
The Red Devils’ lock, Martin ‘Liam’ Gallagher, takes on the defence at Cudgen on Sunday. Photo: John Campbell