Red Devils beaten but certainly not disgraced
BYRON BAY Red Devils may have been beaten by the Grafton Ghosts on Saturday, but they were far from disgraced.
The Red Devils surprised most local rugby league pundits when they convincingly beat Marist Brothers 30-6 in last week's elimination final.
Their performance against the Ghosts in Saturday's semi-final loss would give Red Devils' fans enormous hope of going further next year, but that could not mask halfback Ryan O'Connell's disappointment after fulltime.
"It was always going to be hard after we lost one of our key props (Chris Colman) in the first set," O'Connell said.
"There's no denying how good Grafton were though.
"I'm pretty disappointed with the result but it's been a pretty good year. We beat the Ghosts earlier this year and we beat Murwil- lumbah.
"Have to be happy with that."
O'Connell almost single-handedly brought the game back to Byron Bay's favour with precision kicking.
His ripper 70m run through the Ghosts defence and into open space in the eighth minute threatened to put the Red Devils in an early lead, but was run down by a determined Ghosts' chase.
The skilful halfback would not make excuses for the loss, instead focusing on the future.
"We had a poor pre-season which contributed to a few early losses so we weren't far from a top-three finish," O'Connell said.
"Today was really good for us and our defence was pretty good.
"We have a bunch of good kids coming through so hopefully we can add a bit of depth and be back stronger next year."