Two from Two for the White & Blue

Byron Bay Rugby Club traveled to Ballina in Round 2 of the Far North Coast Zone on Saturday for their first away game of the season. On a humid afternoon, the Blue & White were looking to gain momentum going into Round 3 after a bye week, before facing reigning Premiers Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers.

The game started strong for Ballina RFC with good possession and attacking the Byron Bay line. However, Byron Bays defence proved to be solid forcing the home side to kick for the corner due to frustration of not beating Byron Bays wall of men with some stand out tackling from forwards Will Aisake and Luke Philip.
Poor discipline around the breakdown from Byron Bay gifted Ballina the first points with Ballinas Ryan Boardman kicking 3 points from the 10 meters line.
5 minutes later and Boardman was given another chance after Byron Bay gave away a second penalty for playing on the ground, again within kicking distance giving the home side a 6-0 lead.

The first 20 minutes was proving to be a real contest between Ballina and Byron Bay with not much given away by either team. It wasn’t until Byron Bay stepped up a gear after Ed O’Hare was sent to the bin for 10 minutes for an infringement around the breakdown. Down to 14 men, Byron kept the ball in hand with great possession and were awarded a penalty which Fly Half John Laughlin kicked to touch within Ballinas 22.
With a controlled line-out led by second row Jack Cooke, Byron Bay won and formed a driving maul, showing great body positioning and a strong second push Byron drove 15 metres towards the try line allowing Number 8 Craig Wallace to dive over the line for Byron Bays first try of the afternoon. Momentum had swung to ‘Bay’.

With O’Hare returning to the field, the forward pack used having a full 8 to their advantage and attacked the Ballina defence with great support play and pick and drives. Another rolling maul saw the ‘Bay’ cross the line again, however the referee denied Wallace his second as the grounding was not clear.

The forwards didn’t give up and pushed hard to give a great platform for captain Jascha Saeck to send quick ball to Laughlin and after some great handling from centre pairing Sean Nicholl and Darrell Montgomery, Fullback James Oakley seized the opportunity and with his quick pace managing to beat Ballinas defence to cross the line for Byron Bays second try. With Laughlin adding the conversion Byron Bay went into half time with a 12-6 lead.

The battle between the two teams wasn’t a walk in the park for either side, with tough impacts and tackles meaning both sides had to make replacements at the break.

Byron Bays forwards dominated the start of the second half clearing rucks with strong runs which presented the backs to work their magic. With great ball in hand from Laughlin and continued hard graft and strong running from the Centres, quick ball eventuated giving Oakley the space he needed to defeat the Ballina defence to get his second try of the game.
Minutes later, the forwards still gaining momentum gave quick ball to Saeck who popped to Laughlin for a darting run down the touch line to dive over the goal line for his first try of the day. With a successful conversion giving Laughlin 9 points for the afternoon and Byron Bay a 24-6 lead.

The last 20 minutes was hard yakka for Byron Bay with Ballina showing lack of discipline and accepting defeat with rough play around the breakdowns and scrums. Both teams started to lose their heads in what turned to be very scrappy Rugby. Byron Bay held on to the lead through real determination in defence and shutting down Ballinas attacking play.
5 minutes from the end opportunity was seized by the ‘bay’ after a few fumbles by Ballina, replacement hooker Andy Teuma fly-hack kicked the ball from Ballinas 10 metre line ended in a foot race to crash over the line but was pulled up by the referee for a knock-on much to the annoyance of Byron Bay and the visiting support.

In the final minutes of the game both teams picked up injuries and with some tired legs the game slowed. Ballina pushed one more time being met by Byrons defence. Ballina charged for the line again and again and eventually Ballinas Jake Smith dived over the line in the final play of the game with Ballina adding the two at the final whistle.

Ballina 13 – Byron Bay 24

Byron Bay
Tries: Oakley (2), Wallace, Laughlin
Cons: Laughlin (2).

Pens: Boardman (2)
Tries: Smith