The Byron Rams Premier League squad are nursing some very sore bodies after three gruelling games in 8 days. However the 7 competition points from 2 wins and a draw will hopefully ease some of the pain. After dispatching Casino last weekend the Rams downed arch rivals Richmond Rovers at Neilson Park under lights on Monday night in a see-sawing battle that took its toll with a serious injury to Byron Keeper Kai Connell. The Rams came out eventual winners 4 goals to 3.
The Rams only first half goal came from Ian Lennie in a goal-mouth melee. 22 minutes into the 2nd half Sam Owens scored after a brilliant passage of play down the left wing from Sam Robson. Set play specialist Aaron Richter-Steers added 2 more goals for Byron Bay from beautifully executed penalty kicks.
The long awaited match of the round between the top of the table Byron Rams and Goonellabah Hornets on Saturday was a long time in the planning for Hornets coach Mark Ambler. He had been watching several Rams home and away games over the last couple of months to study their playing style and look for any weakness the Hornets could capitalise on to defuse the Rams' explosive attacking style. In a pre match interview he was confident the Hornets could bounce back from a 2-0 loss to Rovers "We respect Byron, they have the points on the board and 15 goals already this season, but we'll employ the appropriate tactics to respond to their game," he said.
In contrast Byron Bay coach Peter Ware said "We don't play with a focus on strikers, we like to give everybody in the side a chance to push forward and score," Ware said. "We'll attack them down the flanks, we'll attack them down the middle, we'll attack from everywhere." The tactic is proving decisive, with seven of their 10 field players already finding the net this season.
It took 43 minutes of intense and hard hitting play with attacks from both teams end to end before Rams flanker Tim Knight used his blinding pace to shred the Hornets defence down the right wing. He “chipped” the last defender and found Tommy Ruhl on the back post. Ruhl controlled and volleyed the ball beautifully into the net to take the Rams into the lead. Young Rams keeper Pierce Essery had shown great skill pulling off several inspirational full diving saves from relentless and well drilled Hornet attacks in the 1st half.
Goonellabah was desperately chasing an equaliser in the 2nd half and they stepped up their intensity however Ian Lennie Jonno Pierce and Sam Robson in the Rams defence held them at bay. It seemed midfielder Victor Pires was a marked man as he was the victim of several ferocious Goonellabah fouls. 8 minutes in the Hornets broke away down the left channel and whipped a cross in to veteran striker Dave Arnetts. It was a 50:50 race with Lennie on the back line; however he just couldn’t quite reach the ball before Arnetts slammed it past Essery to equalise.
The bruising tackles were taking their toll and in shear frustration Rams midfielder Herrick Schuenemann stupidly retaliated with a crunching tackle on a Goonellabah midfielder for injuring a Rams teammate seconds before. He was given a red card and a severe dressing down from Coach Peter Ware with 35 minutes still to play. It was a decisive point in the game and after having the upper hand in the game it forced the Rams into a defensive strategy to counter the Hornets advantage. Both teams worked hard looking for openings in the defences till the final whistle. However both teams came off the pitch disappointed with the 1-1 draw thinking of what could have been. The Rams will play Ballina Seahorses at 8pm this Friday night at Saunders Oval.