Improving Byron Bay wins another battle
A BATTLE hardened Byron Bay belted Grafton 46-6 for its third straight win in Far North Coast rugby union at the Byron Bay Recreation Ground.
The win puts them within striking distance of the top four while Grafton slips further down the ladder to sixth.
It was a game for the Byron Bay front-rowers with Brad Hill, Jordan Elliot and Tim Hartmann all scoring tries while hooker Dan Morgan was outstanding.
There was nothing between the sides in the first half on Saturday with tries to second-rower Will Aisake and Hartmann giving Byron a 10-6 lead at half-time.
The floodgates opened in the second half with Byron running in five tries including a double to replacement flanker Craig Wallace.
Earlier, Grafton had taken a 6-0 lead after a string of penalties in the first half and did well with players out of position in the backline and some key forwards missing.
"We spoke about our discipline at half-time and we'd given away nine penalties by that stage,” Byron Bay coach Jeff Watt.
"It didn't allow us any field position and it really kept them in the game.
"They flogged us by a similar scoreline in the second round and a lot of them out there today I don't recognise. But it's a contact sport, injuries happen and we've battled hard ourselves.”
An early penalty goal gave Byron a 13-6 lead in the second half before Wallace scored his first.
Elliott ran in an intercept try making it 27-6 and there was no coming back when five-eighth Kyle Hancock was shut-down with a knee injury.
No8 Ed McGrath did a great job filling in at centre for the Redmen and almost scored a try late in the game before he was dragged down by some desperate Byron Bay defence.
Aisake took the tough carries for the full 80 minutes and got an arm free to put Wallace over for the final try.
"Will was superb and I'm really happy across the board with how they responded in the second half,” Watt said.
"We've been doing a lot of work on our defence and we probably need a few teams above us to fall over but we'll be thereabouts.”
In other games:
A superior second half saw Ballina belt Southern Cross University 51-19 at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.
Wollongbar-Alstonville fullback Josh Damen scored four tries in a 92-5 demolition of Lismore City at Lyle Park, Wollongbar.
Casino claimed its biggest scalp of the season with a 29-27 win over Casuarina on the Tweed Coast.
Lennox Head jumped to second with a 26-10 win over Bangalow at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.
Byron Bay 46 (Craig Wallace 2, Will Aisake, Tim Hartmann, Jordan Elliott, James Atkins, Brad Hill tries; Tom Brooks 4 conversions, penalty goal) d Grafton 6 (Adam Smidt 2 penalty goals). Half-time: Byron Bay 10-6.
Ballina 51 (Tupou Lolohea 2, Tom Watson 2, Leigh Foster, Nick Brydon, Nick Watson, Brad Brown, Hayden Warneke tries; Nick Brydon 3 conversions) d Southern Cross University 19 (Kirk Taylor-Brown, Riley Spencer, Dean Buchanan tries; Will Hawkins 2 conversions). Half-time: SCU 19-12.
Wollongbar-Alstonville 92 (Josh Damen 4, Sam Kerry 2, James Vidler 2, Ryan Graham 2, Ben Damen, Benji Tiatia, Justyn Keir, Bill Johnston tries; Sam Kerry 11 conversions) d Lismore City 5 (Gavin Tulk try). Half-time: 50-5.
Casino 29 (Josef Lalabalavu 2, Harrison Cusack, Wilson Lovokuro tries; Harrison Cusack 3 conversions, penalty goal) d Casuarina Beach 27 (Robert Beacroft, Matt Worland, Jay Younger, Graham Dodge tries; Webb Lillis 2 conversions, penalty goal). Half-time: Casuarina 19-10.
Lennox Head 26 (Billy Goldsmith, Callum S Jones, Rhys Tatum, Sam Fitzgerald, Billy Goldsmith 3 conversions) d Bangalow 10 (Rob Wightman, Otty Fifita tries). Half-time: 12-10.
Pointscore: Wollongbar 55, Lennox Head 39, Casuarina 37, Ballina 36, Byron Bay 34, Grafton 29, Casino 24, SCU 14, Bangalow 11, Lismore City 7.
Round 12 this Saturday: Casino v Byron Bay, Bangalow (and Mullumbimby) v Casuarina Beach, Grafton v Wollongbar-Alstonville, Lennox Head v SCU, Lismore City v Ballina.
Reserve grade: Wollongbar 61 d Lismore 5, Casuarina 18 d Casino 5, Ballina 30 d Southern Cross University 0, Mullumbimby 30 d Lennox Head 0.
Women's sevens: Byron Bay 56 d Grafton 5, Ballina 34 d SCU 0, Yamba 30 d Evans River 0.
Next round: Casino v Byron Bay, Evans River v SCU, Grafton v Wollongbar-Alstonville.
President's Cup: Yamba 13 d Evans River 5, Ballina 17 d Kyogle 5, Iluka 52 d Grafton 22.
Next round: Grafton v Iluka, Evans River v Kyogle, Ballina v Tenterfield.