Byron Bay end Pioneers’ two year winning streak
BYRON Bay has broken the two-year undefeated run of Wollongbar-Alstonville in a 17-16 thriller in Far North Coast rugby union at the Byron Bay Recreation Ground.
The Pioneers last tasted defeat when they went down by the same scoreline to Lennox Head on May 31, 2014.
It was a big effort from Byron Bay, which trailed 11-0 at half-time in the grand final rematch.
“They’ve easily been the best team for two years but now we know we can beat them,” Byron Bay coach Paul Jeffery said.
“We were poor in the first half and it certainly wasn’t our best game.
“The second half was a lot better for us and it really could have gone either way at the end.”
Tries to flanker Craig Wallace and No8 Jack Cooke reduced the margin to 11-10.
Wollongbar-Alstonville looked like they were home at 16-10 before a barnstorming Luke Phillip crashed down next to the posts with the conversion putting his side in front.
The Pioneers had a chance to win it at the death with an unsuccessful long-range penalty goal from fullback Sam Kerry.
“Luke can play front row or No8,” Jeffery said.
“I brought him on with about 20 to go and he was very hard to contain.
“Will Aisake was a standout with his aggression in the forwards and we were able to dominate at the set piece.”
The best part for Byron was they did it without the likes of centre Romey Vassell, front-rower Aaron Shakeshaft, flanker Eddie O’Hare and fullback James Oakley.
The club is bursting at the seams with players this season and has a rotation policy where four or five of them sit out each week.
“All those guys are run-on first- graders at any other club,” Jeffery said.
“We’ve gone with a rotation policy this season and we’ve done well with the pressure it put on us here.”
In other games:
The returning Harry Bungate scored two tries for Ballina in a 47-5 home win over Southern Cross University at Quays Reserve.
Bungate looked fresh after his Hawaiian holiday with front-rower Isaac Pratten and second-rowers Aidan Edwards and Josh Lupton also among their best.
Bangalow No8 Issac Hill bagged a try-scoring double when the Rebels beat Lismore City 38-10.
Lennox Head beat the Casino Bulls 28-17 at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.