Clarence Kelly.
Clarence Kelly.

Byron fights Kelly charge

THE Byron Bay Red Devils’ season hangs by a thread after the NRRRL judiciary assessment committee handed Clarence Kelly a six-match ban for striking Grafton Ghosts fullback Anthony Don.

Kelly and club official Jeff Barnes will fight to have the charge downgraded at a judiciary hearing in Lismore tonight.

Should the suspension stand, Kelly would be ruled out of the Red Devils’ three remaining premiership games and he would return to the field only if his team made it to the grand final.

NRRRL secretary Doug Harrison said he hadn’t seen video footage of the incident but indicated the penalty was relatively severe.

“I can’t remember a tougher penalty being handed down in the past five years,” Harrison said.

Byron Bay captain Simon Kelly is desperate to have his main weapon back on deck as the Red Devils charge towards the finals.

“The suspension is extremely disappointing for us,” Kelly said.

“Clarence is a massive part of what we do as a footy side and to move forward without him would be a disaster for the club.

“He adds that speed and spark out wide.

“We hope to have him back and hope for another shot at the Ghosts.”

The match-winning centre was sent off after his forearm allegedly came down on the head of Don in their NRRRL clash on Sunday.

Former NRL referee Mark Oaten, who is now on the NRRRL judiciary panel, played his cards close to his chest with the hearing pending but was blunt when asked what he had seen in video evidence.

“I would prefer not to say much but it’s a pretty clear case of an elbow to the head,” Oaten said.

The panel will hear the Red Devils’ case at 7 o’clock tonight.

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