Devils stomp Turkeys for first Grand Final spot in years
BYRON Bay will play in its first grand final since 2008 after a 14-6 win against Kyogle in the Novaskill Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League preliminary final at New Park, Kyogle, yesterday.
The Red Devils were always going to be hard to run down after taking a 12-0 lead into half-time.
Tries to lock Sam Dwyer and second-rower Hemi Mullen were just reward for the outstanding defence from Byron Bay in the first half.
Fullback Billy Goldsmith extended the lead to 14-0 after Kyogle halfback Simon Pederson was sent to the sin-bin in the 66th minute after giving referee Tim Booth a verbal spray.
The Red Devils defence held strong with a determined run from Turkeys captain Scott Lavelle in the final minutes the only time the home side managed to cross the try line.
"Our defence has been solid for a few weeks now and we turned up for each other all game," Byron Bay captain-coach Ryan O'Connell said.
"They're a tough side to beat, especially at home; it was good to get a couple of early tries and put the pressure on.
"We trained the best we have all year and you could tell in the warm-up it was going to be a pretty special performance."
Heavy rain just before kick-off did not stop Kyogle fullback Sam Nicholson and Goldsmith from having top games for their respective teams.
Byron lost second-rower Cale Rowston when he pulled out injured in the warm-up with props Simon Kelly and Chris Coleman putting in their usual whole-hearted performances.
"It's been a few years since we've got past the first week of semis, so I'm really proud of the boys," O'Connell said. "If we defend like that against Ballina, we'll be in it again, no matter what."
Kyogle missed second-rower Travis Falls, who was out injured and Pederson returned to the field and battled on despite a heavy knock in the first half.
In other games, Casino held on for a 26-22 win against Kyogle in the reserve grade preliminary final.
Earlier, Kyogle had a 24-18 against Marist Brothers to advance to the grand final.
Byron Bay 14 (S Dwyer, H Mullen tries, B Goldsmith 3 goals) d Kyogle 6 (S Lavelle try; B Studders goal)