Kelly's magic 80m run helps cinch qualifying semi for Devils

ROAR EMOTION: Byron Bay forward Cale Rowston celebrates after scoring the match-winning try in the elimination semi-final against Casino at Red Devil Park on Saturday. The Red Devils won 32-24.
ROAR EMOTION: Byron Bay forward Cale Rowston celebrates after scoring the match-winning try in the elimination semi-final against Casino at Red Devil Park on Saturday. The Red Devils won 32-24.

SKILL, speed and determination.

Byron Bay front-rower Simon Kelly had it all when he picked up a misguided kick at his feet and raced untouched 80 metres to score a crucial try.

The effort helped spark his team which went on to beat Casino 32-24 in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League qualifying semi-final at Red Devil Park, Byron Bay on Saturday.

It wasn't a stand-alone effort. Kelly and his fellow forwards ground away and helped keep the Red Devils in front for most of the game.

"We dug pretty deep and our forward pack was unreal," captain-coach Ryan O'Connell said.

"There was the Simon Kelly runaway try; the old fella can run when he wants to.

"They (Casino) play some pretty expansive footy so we're probably a bit lucky the wet weather slowed them down a bit.

"We struggle with ball control sometimes but I think we have a team that can win the competition."

Tries to brothers Bill and Chris King took Byron to an early 12-0 lead and it looked as though they were going to blow the Cougars off the park.

But Casino fought back and drew level at 18-all just before halftime.

A penalty goal to fullback Billy Goldsmith put the home side back in front at the break.

Front-rower Chris Coleman was next to score, crossing the try-line to give his side an eight-point buffer before Casino lock Todd Johnson scored his second to narrow the margin to 26-24.

Some fresh legs and the move by Cale Rowston from second-row back into his preferred position of hooker paid off as he scrambled from dummy half to score the match-winner.

Two knock-on calls from referee Peter O'Connor where the ball looked to have rolled back took the steam out of the Cougars in the final 10 minutes.

Second-rower Damien Benn, prop Dave Fernando and Johnson were among the standouts for Casino.

"I couldn't be prouder of our boys; they had a real dig," Casino coach Troy McLean said.

"We knew it was going to be tough over here and we lost a centre and our halfback in the first half.

"We got a bit of a touch-up in the penalty count again but at the end of the day they were probably just a little bit better."

Casino is now into Mad Monday celebrations while Byron Bay will contest the minor semi-final on Saturday.

Earlier, Mullumbimby beat Ballina 20-4 in the under-18 clash while Marist Brothers ground out a 14-8 win against Byron Bay in reserve grade.


Byron Bay 32 (C King, B King, S Kelly, C Coleman, C Rowston tries; B Goldsmith 6 goals) d

Casino 24 (T Johnson 2, D Fernando, C Torrens tries; R Bell 4 goals)

Topics:  byron bay red devils casino cougars nrrrl rugby league

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