Byron Bay end 2-year unbeaten streak for Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers.
Byron Bay Rugby jumped to the top of the Far North Coast Zone ladder on Saturday after an inspiring second half performance.
During the first half Byron Bay showed poor discipline around the breakdown and with lack of concentration gifted Pioneers the first points with Fullback Sam Kerry slotting a penalty over the post from inside the Byron Bay half.
Byron Bays forward pack dominated the Rucks & Mauls and gave the Pioneers trouble in the scrum with Byrons Tight 5 giving the game a real battle up front. Big performances from Josh Smith and Will Aisake kept the forwards working together.
After some quick play from the Pioneers halfway through the first half, their backs dummied and with some pace and skill saw Kerry go over for the first try of the afternoon.
Minutes later and the Pioneers were gifted another penalty to extend the lead which Kerry had no problem converting with the boot giving the Visitors a 0-11 lead at halftime.
After good inspiration from Craig Wallace & Captain Jascha Saeck at halftime, the Blue and White went into the first half charging. Great vision from John Laughlin set up Sean Nicholl with a darting run that put Byron deep into Pioneer territory. The Pioneers showed the pressure mounting on them and conceded a penalty outside their 22. The Bay kicked for touch and opted for the lineout.
With a great catch by Jack Cooke and strong rolling Maul saw Byron Bay go over for the first time and start of their revival with Wallace securing the Try.
8 minutes later and it was Byron Bays forwards on the attack again with some good drives and excellent support play saw Luke Philip drive and score over the line. Byron Bay’s second-half dominance was starting to show.
The last 10 minutes was a rollercoaster of tension for the 300 strong crowd at the Recreation Grounds. The Pioneers didn’t give up and quick hands from their backs and attack lead by Fly Half Ben Damen saw them back into Byron Bay’s 22. Byrons defence held on with some strong standout tackles from Aisake & Cooke. With some quick ball wide the Pioneers surged to the line but Josh Smith put his body on the line for a big tackle, which later the Referee deemed unsafe and Smith was sent to the bin for the rest of the game.
Byron Bay down to 14 men still held their defence but with the overlap the Pioneers flyer, Jarrod Wyllie flew over the line to grant them the lead once more. Pioneers now lead Byron Bay 16-10 with 6 minutes to go.
Byron Bay didn’t lose hope and dug in deep in the final minutes with the ball not leaving the Pioneers half. Discipline was starting to lack for the visitors and with some more forward dominance from Byron Bay saw them receive a penalty outside their 5 metre line. Jack Cooke wasting no time on the quick tap crashed over the line under the post for Byrons third try of the afternoon. With pressure on his shoulders, Laughlin cooly kicked the extra 2 points giving Byron Bay the lead into the final minute.
A quick restart from the Pioneers saw them scramble for the ball and with sheer determination won back possession, Byron were caught offside at the breakdown giving the visitors one last shot at goal. Kerry couldn’t convert from 4o metres out and with that the Referee had seen enough and blew the final whistle.
“We are absolutely thrilled!” said Club President Tim Ahern. “A great performance from the team and [Head Coach] Paul Jeffery, but it’s only Round 3 and we still have our work cut out for us.
Byron Bay Rugby now travel to face second-place Lennox Head Sat 21st May.
Byron Bay Rugby 17 – Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers 16
Byron Bay Rugby
Tries; C. Wallace, L. Philip, J. Cooke
Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers RFC
Tries; S. Kerry, J. Wyllie
Pens; S. Kerry (2)