Northern United’s Roy Bell slotted home the conversion that won the Dirawongs a tight match against Byron Bay at Crozier Field in Lismore yesterday.
Northern United’s Roy Bell slotted home the conversion that won the Dirawongs a tight match against Byron Bay at Crozier Field in Lismore yesterday. Marc Stapelberg

Northern United win in 79th minute

IT TOOK him 79 minutes to have a lasting effect but when Roy Bell slotted a sideline conversion to hand Northern United a 32-30 win over Byron Bay yesterday, the prodigal son was back.

Five second-half lead changes at Crozier Field in Lismore saw the fiery clash in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League go right down to the wire with a fundamental mistake effectively costing Byron a win.

The Red Devils only had to play out a set-of-six and put the ball into touch after Jarred De Thierry scored to grab the lead with two minutes to play – but it all went horribly wrong when Ben Webber kicked out on the full to give the Dirawongs a sniff.

And a sniff was all they needed.

With Byron down to 12 men, a sideways shift led to an unmarked Fred Pitt touching down in the corner for his second try to square it up.

Then, from his non-preferred side, Bell iced the match.

“That is the kick all goal-kickers dream of,” Bell said.

“It wins the match, earns me a few shouts at the bar, and gives me bragging rights for a week.”

The classy fullback couldn’t contain his glee after donning the Dirawongs’ colours for the first time since last year’s grand final.

“It’s great to be back,” he said.

“I love this club.”

Bell’s old mate Clarence Kelly crossed for a hat-trick for the Red Devils to give him seven tries in two games – and the elusive centre also came in for plenty of attention from his old team-mates.

Aggressive Dirawongs back-rowers Wilo James and James Roberts were a handful for the Red Devils, while Matt Connors was the pick of the Byron Bay forwards.

David Briggs proved hard to stop throughout – only a sin-binning could slow the hot-stepping youngster.

Briggs was third man in at a flare-up after Brad Lees accidentally caught Jamahl Roberts with an elbow – Lees was sent for an early shower himself which sent winger Duane Cahill to fullback and allowed Pitt to score twice in his absence.

There was no sign of Fred Waters pulling on a jumper yesterday; the winger is due to play next weekend.

NORTHERN UNITED 32 (W James 2, F Pitt 2, J Roberts, T Williams tries; Bell 4 goals) d BYRON BAY 30 (C Kelly 3, B Webber, J De Thierry tries; D Cahill 3, J De Thierry 2 goals).



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