Red Devils’ season begins with lacklustre loss as history repeats

Clarence ‘the Clocker’ Kelly had precious few opportunities with ball in hand at Red Devil Park on Sunday.

There was déjà vu at Red Devil Park on Sunday in Byron Bay’s opening encounter of the NRRRL season against Marist Brothers when they lost 36–14. 

In front of a crowd of just under 5,000 the local side turned back the clock to 2017 and produced a dysfunctional performance that saw them flogged 36–14.

The visitors scored as soon as they were gifted the pill after Byron botched the kick-off, but the home side responded immediately when high-profile recruit and former Brother, fullback Mitch ‘Mitchell’ Krause, collected a chip and sprinted 80 metres down the eastern flank to score without a hand being laid on him until after he had crossed the line. 

The late tackle he copped resulted in an eight-point try and the Devils found themselves ahead 8–6. In their spanking new white kit, all was well with the world.

It went pear-shaped thereafter. 

Byron disregarded all of the fundamental rules. They dropped the ball like an iron-gloved wicket-keeper, held a ragged line in defence and appeared to have no idea how to go about scoring. 

None of which is to say that they didn’t try hard. It’s just that their execution was up that smelly creek without a paddle.

A vaunted pack of forwards huffed and puffed, but were unable to make nearly so much headway as their opposites did – they lost the ruck – while the Papists’ half and five-eighth orchestrated proceedings. 

What might have been Byron’s most potent attacking weapon, the centre/wing combination of Clarence ‘the Clocker’ Kelly and Bill ‘the Lion’ King, might as well have stayed at home to watch the footy on TV for all the chances they got to strut their stuff. 

Marist resumed the lead almost immediately from a terrible Devils blunder and all any of us wanted was for the teams to settle. The other mob did, Byron didn’t, and while Krause was in the bin for his part in a scuffle (as a former Brother, he was baited all day), the Devils found themselves behind 18–8. Nobody wanted to admit it so early, but it was ‘goodnight nurse’ from that moment. 

Prop ‘Smokin’ Joe Vickery picked up a consolation meat pie for his unstinting effort, but the Devils had been thoroughly outplayed. 

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