John Campbell words and photo
In their last game of the 2017 northern rivers rugby league season Byron Bay Red Devils lost 52–4 playing away against the Kyogle Turkeys on Sunday.
To say the score was a fair reflection of how it went down is a hurtful truth.
The Turkeys were primed for a sharp, fast performance and were all over a lacklustre Devils outfit from the kick-off – their speedy full-back killed us.
They also played like a side whose season still promised a place in the play-offs, whereas Byron appeared to be more concerned with the indulgences of Mad Monday.
As next week’s last round of the NRRRL minor premiership is a bye for the men in red, season 2017 is mercifully over for them – and you’d have to say that, on Sunday’s form, they’d be lucky to win the bye.
It would, you’d imagine, take an official of paper-thin skin or malicious intent to simultaneously sin-bin two players for dissent when their team, already on the end of a horrendous penalty count, was behind 36–0. But it happened on Sunday at Kyogle when the ref, presumably thinking that the local side needed further assistance, marched Byron’s Ryan ‘the Crab’ O’Connell (who, as captain, had every right to approach the whistleblower) and Tom ‘Deano’ Martin, reducing the visitors to eleven gallant but outclassed players against thirteen.
A problem that Byron had all year was with personnel. Nobody knew from one week to the next who would turn up to pull the jersey on. It’s been more like musical chairs than a proper footy club. And that’s another thing that Kyogle had on Sunday – a side that looked like it knew who the bloke next to them was.
Which is in no way a criticism of those Devils who took to the field. They tried, but, slow out of the blocks, they were on the back foot from the start. Rarely able to get hold of the pill, they spilt it when they did.
Shortly after the half-time break, Adam ‘Ant’ Gordon chipped for Billy ‘The Lion’ King to chase and score, but all the try really did was allow the supporters who had travelled from the coast to breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that they would not get flogged to zero.
Byron’s application to defence lifted in the second forty. Pride counts for a lot when you are playing away and giving the home supporters too much to gloat about, but there was never any wild thoughts that the Devils might get close.
But as they say in the classics, ‘it’s on again next year’, and plans for an almighty resurgence are already afoot.