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by Mitchell Craig
THE Byron Bay Rams have held off a fast-finishing Richmond Rovers to take out soccer's summer youth league for the second consecutive year.
The Rams won seven of their nine games to finish one point clear of Rovers, who managed to beat Byron Bay in the final round.
Byron Bay premier division defender Jonathan Pierce has been at the helm as coach for the past two seasons.
The 25-year-old is thrilled to have gone back-to-back in the competition, open to 15- to 20-year-olds.
"It was a close finish and we've had a good couple of years," Pierce said.
"I've been coaching junior representative teams for a few years now and this has been a lot of fun.
"It's not as intense as the regular competition in winter."
The summer youth league aims to give young players a taste of the next level and each team is allowed two older players as mentors.
The Rams were lucky enough to pick up Japanese striker Kazuhiro Tsukamoto as one of their mentors.
Another striker, Jai Ingham, scored 14 goals for the season.
"We had two mentors who really helped us out and Ian Lennie was awesome for us at central defender," Pierce said.
"Hopefully it will be a bit of a stepping stone for some junior players to make the transition into seniors.
"I think the summer competition definitely improves the quality of the premier division in winter."
Pierce looks forward to some of his team making the step up to play in Far North Coast premier division next season.