Kelly cleared on technicality
TECHNICALITIES may have saved Byron Bay's NRRRL season after the Red Devils had Clarence Kelly's six-match ban overturned on Sunday.
A hit-and-run mission to have Kelly's striking case cross-examined by the neighbouring Group 19 proved fruitful for the club.
Desperate to have the star centre available for the close of the season Byron Bay club official Jeff Barnes travelled to Glen Innes with Kelly early Sunday where their case was heard by the Group 19 appeals committee.
The committee threw the case out and scrapped Kelly's ban in its entirety after it was found that the NRRRL had failed to properly exercise procedure on two counts.
Firstly, the send-off report which made reference to Kelly's indiscretion against Grafton Ghosts two weeks ago was dated incorrectly.
Secondly, it was judged that the NRRRL judiciary panel was unable to make an objective ruling as one official had sat on the assessment panel for the same matter.
NRRRL president Robin Harley was slightly bemused at the decision.
“It's an interesting one,” he said.
“They didn't address the guilt of the player in question, just the technicalities.
“But good luck to Clarence and Byron; they did what they believed they had to do and we will accept the decision and move on.”
Harley won't dwell on the incident but he wonders how an assessment and judiciary process which the local league has had in place for seven years could be overruled by a body which has no connection to the NRRRL.
“I'm a bit bemused that a process which has been successful and consistent has been overlooked,” he said.
“Having outsiders pass judgement on issues from within our competition might not be ideal as the Group 19 appeals committee has no idea of how things have been dealt with in the past.
“I can't see how we can get any consistency.”
Consistency is something that the Red Devils will need to find if they are to break back into the top-five – two wins is the only way they can give themselves a chance.
A big clash with Ballina looms this weekend and captain Simon Kelly is relieved to have his game-breaker back on deck.
“Apart from the tries that he scores, Clarence just gives everyone that bit of confidence knowing that he is there,” Kelly said.
“There is a big chance that our inclusion in the finals will come down to for and against and at the rate that Clarence scores tries it gives us a much better chance.”
If Byron beats Ballina they will join them on the cusp of the top five on 19 points.
Ballina currently holds a superior for and against to the tune of 26 points – something that the Bay could rectify in their final match against struggling Tweed Coast.
But at the same time Ballina will be racking up a cricket score against Lower Clarence.
The make-up of the finals combatants sits on a knife's edge.