Red Devils exact revenge with big win over Ballina
BYRON Bay halfback Ryan O'Connell scored two tries in the final 15 minutes to seal a 33-20 win over Ballina in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, yesterday.
It was a small measure of revenge for the Red Devils captain-coach and the rest of the side who were beaten by Ballina in the 2014 grand final at the same ground the previous time they played.
With some positional changes and new players on deck it looks like Byron are set for another good year if they can keep the team together.
Winger Nathan Nichols bagged a try-scoring double with his second giving Byron a 20-6 lead midway through the second half.
Ballina centre Michael Thomas experienced the highs and lows of rugby league during the game.
He was sent to the sin bin late in the first half for his part in a melee along with opposition centre Brad Lees.
Thomas returned with extra venom in his defence and scored two tries to get the home side back to 20-all.
It didn't last long with O'Connell scoring the first of his tries before five-eighth Billy Goldsmith slotted a field goal.
O'Connell led from the front all game and his second try was just reward for a determined 80 min-utes.
Prop Simon Kelly was at his best while lock Sam Dwyer and fullback Sean Deaves also played well.
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Ballina missed front-rower Dylan Montgomery, who was off for most of the second half with a rib injury.
Replacement hooker Tim Foster, second-rower Lyam Ible and Thomas were the best for Ballina.
Elsewhere, the Murwillumbah Mustangs had a hard-fought 18-12 over the Casino Cougars at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah.
Casino led 12-6 with 14 minutes left before two late tries snatched the win for the home side
Northern United ran away with a 34-8 win over Mullumbimby at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby, on Saturday night.
New recruits Chris King and Willo James played well for the Dirawongs.
In other games, Cudgen defeated Lower Clarence 36-18 at Maclean Showground and Evans Head downed Marist Brothers 26-18at Crozier Field in Lismore.