Bay's Red Devils perfect game - almost
BYRON Bay went within six minutes of a perfect game as they cantered to a comfortable 46-16 victory against an under-manned Marist Brothers in the NRRRL at Red Devil Park yesterday.
It wasn't that the defending premiers played mistake-free football - although they did enjoy plenty of bright moments including a hat-trick of tries to backrower Simon Kelly - but the fact that referee Vaughan Steel didn't penalise Byron for an infringement until the 74th minute with the match almost over.
It was an unusual occurrence considering the man in the middle had found fault with Brothers 14 times before then.
Byron coach Nathan Cross was amused his side got off so lightly but also relieved to take the win which now guarantees them a semi-final position and he was thrilled with the effort of Kelly.
“Yeah, that was a bit different,” the Byron mentor said in reference to the penalty count.
“I think we're still a long way from continually matching it with the likes of Mullum, Lower Clarence and United but this was step in the right direction.
“Our attack started to gel a bit and hopefully a game like that will give the boys some confidence.
“Simo (Kelly) was definitely one of our best. He's playing in the second row now instead of prop and we've moved him to the edge so he can pick out a few of the smaller blokes. He's quite dynamic.”
Another bright spot for the Red Devils was the assured play of halfback Jared De Thierry, who is returning from a broken leg and played a full match, while the continued strikepower of fullback Brad Lees and centre Ryan O'Connell was there for all to see with both notching two tries each.
However, in a blow to the Bay, five-eighth Tobin Cupples injured his ankle and is expected to miss up to three weeks.
Brothers came close to defeating Byron last time they played and only lost after a last-minute field goal. But any thoughts of a Rams upset yesterday was gone by half-time with the home side leading 24-10 and three injured senior players on the bench including second-rower Luke Pettit and props Des Maher and Cameron Paine.
While the Brethren scored first through a clever try by winger Jamahl Roberts, Kelly replied almost immediately with two tries while Lees matched him with two of his own and the Bay led 24-4.
Brothers got back to 24-10 with a strong try to prop Mick McLelland just before the break but a further two tries just after half-time, a third to Kelly and the first to O'Connell, saw the Bay out to a comfortable 34-10 lead.
Hooker Josh Nichols then scurried over for a 20-metre individual try for Brothers and the Bay replied by rolling in their last two tries through Eddie Harrison and O'Connell.
It was an impressive performance by the Bay with lock Seb Lamilla and hooker Eli Colby also standing tall.
The Brethren, while conceding 14 penalties, attempted a version of rugby league suicide by simply coughing up possession either through poor options or poor handling.
While there was plenty left for coach David Krause to ponder he would have been pleased with the effort of Nichols, centre Pete Jeffery, halfback Evan Hickling and second-rower Darryl Butcher.