Rhinos blow away Byron Bay
RHINOS centre Joe Ravueta has earned himself the nickname ‘The Fijian Flyer’.
And at McKittrick Park yesterday, it is not hard to see why.
Ravueta was at his devastating best as the home side blew away a depleted Byron Bay side 40-8.
The former Fijian farmer and fisherman grabbed four tries and at times was unstoppable.
Rhinos coach Xavier Sullivan was in awe of Ravueta, who continues to impress with his speed and strength.
“We decided to move Joe to the left side where he seems to get a lot more football. He’s very strong ... it’s probably from pulling in fishing nets back home,” Sullivan said after the game.
A small crowd was on hand to see Ravueta weave his magic as he continually made the Red Devils defence look ordinary.
The Fijian flyer’s first touch of the ball saw him sprint 50 metres, leaving Byron Bay defenders in his wake.
And there was little respite for the Red Devils fullback, who had a nightmare time trying to bring Ravueta to the ground.
It may be the smallest silver lining to a very black cloud, but the Rhinos’ victory was just what the doctor ordered.
“It was a must-win game, especially against a side like Byron who are an 80-minute team,” Sullivan said.
“I’m very happy with the performance even though we switched off for about 10 minutes.
“I’m wondering where that side was last week.”
In Byron’s defence, they were missing key players in the backline, including Country representative centre Clarence Kelly.
But before the game Sullivan had his own problems with the late withdrawal of Joel Moss.
“Mossy withdrew late so I moved Todd (Cameron) to fullback,” Sullivan said.
With Cameron playing at the back, evergreen play-maker Steve Kirby moved into halfback with Sam Woods taking Kirby’s position at number nine.
Kirby appeared to enjoy his role at number seven and scored the first four-pointer after receiving a magic inside ball from Sullivan.
Sullivan was at his wrecking-ball best, making easy metres on the edge of the ruck and popping some vintage passes to his support players.
The Rhinos went to the break at 18-0 with Byron failing to complete a set of six in the first half. The Rhinos’ plan to go wide early paid dividends with Ravueta and Luke Worthing having a field day.
The second half was a scrappy affair with both sides guilty of too many loose carries and at times feeble defence.
Byron managed to peg back the Rhinos mid-way through the second half through their second-rower Matt Connor, who crossed twice, but it was too little too late.
Further tries to Ravueta, Dwayne Duke and Sullivan, who barged his way over the line on fulltime, secured a much needed win for the Rhinos, who have two home games against Evans Head and Cudgen after the general bye round this week.
Apart from Ravueta and Sullivan, back-rower Ben Woods was tireless in defence and attack and Worthing looked at home at right centre.
“Ben always puts in a consistent performance and I thought Luke had a huge game in the centres,” Sullivan said.
The Magpies under-16 girls team defeated a much improved Rebels side 36-16 in a curtain- raiser to the reserve grade clash.
Rhinos 40 (J Ravueta 4, X Sullivan, D Duke, S Kirby tries; L Worthing 6 conversions) d Byron Bay 8 (M.Connor 2 tries).
Rhinos 58 (D Duke 4, K Mercy 3, R Hardy, L Walker, M Shields tries; J Gordon 5 conversions, O Monaghan 3, L Walker 1) d Byron Bay 24 (T Cupples 2, J King, L Kelly tries; J King 4 conversions).
Lower Clarence Magpies 36 d Grafton Rebels 16.