Nelson Bay Gropers chalk up third successive win in Hunter Suburban Rugby

Nelson Bay forwards John Lundie (on ground), Hamish Bartlett and Lewis Affleck pressure the Marauders with bustling defence during the 46-7 triumph at Bill Strong Oval.

A STINT with Edmonton Leprechaun Tigers in the Canadian Rugby series last season has given barnstorming Nelson Bay forward Jordan Byfield a new lease of life.

In his comeback match for the Gropers in last Saturday’s Hunter Suburban Mens Rugby local derby tilt with Medowie at Bill Strong Oval, a rejuvenated Byfield stood tall in a 46-7 triumph.

Nelson Bay outclassed a tenacious Marauders line up in wet conditions to cap a successful Old Boys and Memorial Cups Day with powerful performances from rampaging forwards Byfield, prop Beau Mason, lock and skipper Hamish Bartlett and flanker Lewis Affleck, centres Michael Hotene and Daniel Arnfield, classy halves Ilisoni Vonomatairatu and Khce Petera and gun fullback Will Dunn.

The strong-running Byfield achieved instant success when he helped the Leprechauns win the 2023 Canadian City Championship trophy for the first time in twenty years with an emphatic 46-17 victory over Druids.

He also produced a non-stop effort in the gripping 32-25 loss to Hornets in the Provincial Challenge Final in Calgary to underline a memorable North American campaign.

Now settled back home in Port Stephens, an industrious Jordan hopes to secure more silverware with his beloved Gropers.

Byfield crashed over for two second half tries as Nelson Bay chalked up a third consecutive victory with bonus points to surge

into a share of second spot with Cooks Hill Brown Snakes (17 points) behind competition leaders Singleton Red Bulls (24).

The premiers led 22-7 at the interval after front rowers Mason, who was best on ground, and Nathan McLeay crossed for five pointers along with custodian Dunn and the flamboyant Vonomatairatu.

Medowie showed plenty of grit and courage and were rewarded with a try from fullback Brayden Braley on the stroke of half time.

After the break the Gropers consolidated their dominance with Byfield grabbing a try double along with Dunn and Kiwi winger Danien Bryant.

Nelson Bay coach Michael Wiringi told News Of The Area that he was pleased with the wet weather performance from his experienced charges.

“We handled the conditions well and produced some solid rugby against a spirited Medowie side that pushed us all the way,” reflected the highly acclaimed mentor.

The Gropers tackle the Pokolbin Reds this Saturday in a sixth round fixture at Drain Oval at 3pm.

By Chris KARAS

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