Byron union team shows depth with big win over Bangalow
DESPITE losing both their second-rowers before kick-off, Byron Bay battled on for a 34-14 win over Bangalow in Far North Coast rugby union on Saturday.
It was their fourth consecutive win and they did it with five forwards missing in action at the Byron Bay Recreation Ground.
"We had one second-rower hurt his groin out in the surf before the game and another got called away for work," coach Paul Jeffery said.
"There were a few hiccups in the first half but this was a game we probably would have lost last year."
Fullback James Oakley finished the game with a double as Byron ran in five tries in the second half.
Flanker Ed O'Hare, five-eighth Brandon Lewsey and centre Harvey Bell were other standouts.
"The best thing was all our tries came from set pieces," Jeffery said.
"Now we know we can win games when the squad is weakened."
Second-placed Ballina thumped Lismore City 55-7 at Lismore Rugby Park.
City stayed in the fight early but the floodgates opened after Ballina centre Joel Staude scored an intercept try.
The highlight of the first half was a long-range try where flanker Andrew Burke offloaded to hooker Nathan Groves to score in the corner.
Second-rower Chris Long, No 8 Harry Bungate and Burke were Ballina's best players.
Grafton centre Keaton Ingram scored five tries ina 60-15 win over Casino at Grafton.
The win puts Grafton just one point behind Bangalow and three points shy of fourth-placed Lennox Head.
The SCU v Wollongbar game was postponed.
Wollongbar five-eighth Ben Damen and Jerry Faiese played for NSW Country in a 20-15 win over Queensland Country on Saturday.
FNC RUGBY SCOREBOARD
Byron Bay 34 (James Oakley 2, Jascha Saeck, Nic Fisher, Michael Armstrong, Craig Wallace tries, Brandon Lewsey 2 conversions) d Bangalow 14 (Neil Moran, Dave Eastwell tries, Ollie James 2 conversions). Half-time: Bangalow 7-5.
Ballina 55 (Nathan Groves, Harry Bungate, Grant Knight, Ryan Boardman, Joel Staude, Ben Robinson, Joe Jansson, Tupou Lutua, Zac Allen tries, Grant Knight 4, Luke Watling conversions) d Lismore 7 (Ben Briggs try, Zac Hyatt con-version). Half-time: 33-7.
Grafton 60 (Keaton Ingram 5, Tom Ellem 2,Luke Butler, Jacob Lynch, Paul Cameron tries, Andrew Pye 5 con-versions) d Casino 15 (Paul Johnston, Joe Hannigan, Dolan Pederson tries). Half-time: 20-5.
SCU v Wollongbar: Postponed. Bye: Lennox Head.
Pointscore: Wollongbar-Alstonville 43, Ballina 41, Byron Bay 39, Lennox Head 22, Bangalow 20, Grafton 19, Lismore 10, Casino 10, Southern Cross University 5.
Reserve grade: Wollongbar-Alstonville 42 d Yamba 12, Grafton 41 d Casino 0, Ballina 50 d Lismore 19, Evans River 33 d Bangalow 0, Lennox Head 33 d Murwillumbah 19.
President's Cup: Lismore 22 d Ballina 20, Kyogle 7 d Wollongbar-Alstonville 5, Grafton 24 d Mullumbimby 21.