A LATE try to flanker Craig Wallace snatched a memorable 32-31 win for Byron Bay over Wollongbar-Alstonville in Far North Coast rugby union at Lyle Park, Wollongbar, on Saturday.
It left a pressure kick for the five-eighth John Laughlin, who had missed all five previous conversions and needed to slot the goal to maintain the team’s unbeaten record this season.
Byron would have been filthy if they had lost after running in six tries compared to one penalty try and eight penalty goals from Pioneers five-eighth Ben Damen.
They copped a hiding in the penalty count but hammered the win home with brutal defence and solid work at the set piece.
“Nothing went our way and I’ll have to watch the video,” Byron Bay coach Paul Jeffery said.
“We play by the rules and I’m hoping for a sit-down with the referee (Matthew Clayton) this week for some clarification.
“But an away win against Wollongbar is as good as it gets and we came to prove a point with our defence.
“Realistically, our winger James Oakley probably should have scored four more tries with the number of line breaks we made.”
Pioneers centre Nathaniel Regueira and winger Adam Law felt the full force of the Byron defence and were early casualties, forcing a reshuffle in the backline.
Halfback Louis Hollman bombed a certain try when he failed to pass to unmarked winger Luke Baker back on the inside.
It looked like Byron might have been about to run riot after tries to centre Sean Nicholl, Laughlin and Wallace gave them a 15-6 lead.
However, they soon lost No8 Jack Cooke, who was yellow- carded for diving over the top of a maul, with the referee awarding the home side a penalty try.
Four straight penalty goals put the Pioneers in front 25-15 before Byron started to turn the screws at the set piece in the second half.
Second-rower Will Aisake was yellow-carded on the advice of a touch judge when he collected Damen high in a tackle when Byron were trailing 25-20.
It could have given the Pioneers an eight-point buffer but Damen was clearly still rattled and missed the penalty kick.
He was able to kick one more before tries to halfback Harold Chiffoleau and Wallace got Byron Bay home.
In other games:
New Bangalow five-eighth Vitori Buatava bagged a try-scoring when the Rebels beat Lismore City 46-5 at Lismore Rugby Park.
Ballina flanker Jake Smith scored four tries as the Seahorses belted Southern Cross University 107-0 at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.
It was a big effort from the depleted SCU with most of the team also playing a full game of reserve grade.
Lennox Head ran out with a 55-26 win over the Casino Bulls at Albert Park, Casino.