Best may be yet to come for Byron Bay
THE best could still be to come for Byron Bay after a 24-13 win over Ballina in Far North Coast rugby union at Quays Reserve, Ballina.
Byron are unbeaten after two rounds and will host Wollongbar-Alstonville in a grand final rematch when the competition resumes on May 13.
They have a squad of more than 30 players and were able to rotate plenty of fresh bodies on the field against Ballina.
“We’ve used these first two games as trial matches where we rested a lot of our players and still got the result, which is pleasing,” Byron Bay coach Paul Jeffery said.
“We wanted to give everyone who might not get much game time in the coming weeks a good run here.
“Training started for us in November and it’s still early days as we learn our new pattern.
“Defensively we were really strong in the first half and we made a point of that.”
Ballina were strong in the early exchanges and looked like taking a 6-5 lead into half-time before fullback James Oakley used his blistering speed to score a try just before the break.
Two quick tries saw the score blow out to 24-6 before Ballina flanker Jake Smith scored under the cross-bar in a determined effort in the final minute.
“It wasn’t about how many we scored, it was about what we let in,” Jeffery said.
“To only let in one try in the last minute is fine, I can let that go.”
Byron Bay were best served by centre Darrell Montgomery, halfback Jascha Saeck and second- rower Jack Cook.
The back row of Andrew Burke, Chris Long and Smith toiled hard for Ballina along with hooker Aidan Cubis.
The Casino Bulls pulled off a remarkable turnaround when they beat Bangalow 15-10 at Albert Park, Casino.
The young Bulls respond- ed after a humiliating 107-0 loss to defending premiers Wollongbar-Alstonville in the first round.
Casino winger Harry Cussack bagged a try-scoring double in the first half as the Bulls took a 15-0 lead into half-time.
Elsewhere, Lennox Head had a hard-fought 22-12 win over Southern Cross University at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.
They finished the game with 14 men after captain Mick Muir was red-carded in the second half.
And Wollongbar- Alstonville had a convincing 64-19 win over Lismore City at Lismore Rugby Park.
There are no games this weekend with the NSW Country Championships at Armidale.