In the last 4 years almost every Byron Rams vs. Richmond Rovers Premier league football game has ended in a hard fought draw and it has become a hoodoo for both teams. Sundays Anzac Cup clash was billed as match of the round as a both teams had first round wins last week and always step up a notch when they play together. The crowd certainly wasn’t disappointed with Rovers and The Rams putting on an action packed display of fine football creating incredibly fast attacks with beautiful skills from the first whistle. The players will be counting their bruises during the week from the crunching tackles and fights for possession while both teams worked hard to find openings for their strikers. Early on a blinding shot from Rams veteran midfielder Aaron Richter-Steers hit the top right hand corner metalwork of the Rovers goal and inexplicably popped back out. We didn’t have to wait long before Rams Tommy Ruhl took a powerful throw from the Rovers back corner and found dreadlocked Brazilian signing Victor Pires in front. Pires took a touch and slammed a volley past Rovers keeper Chris Jones to take the Rams to an early lead.
Rovers muscled their way back and the fight for possession in the midfield was intense. The Rovers attackers kept the seasoned defensive pair of Sean Packham and Ian Lennie busy while gifted left back Sam Robson made overlapping runs with Jonno Pierce to cause Rovers real trouble. Rams Yantra Whitling and Layton Barton worked overtime with their tackle count against Rovers Bobby Bugden and Sean Baker. They managed to distribute the ball beautifully to the Rams attacking channels. However with so much tension and aggressive attacking by the Rovers forwards it was just a matter of time before Brad Brower-Chad broke though and crossed a fantastic ball for Jonathan See to shoot on the Rams goal. Keeper Pierce Essery got a finger to the ball but just couldn’t deflect it and the score levelled at 1-1 going into the break. Both teams came out in the second half full of fire and the bruising started again with Bobby Bugden inspiring for Rovers. 10 minutes in veteran Ram Sammy Owens created an opportunity on the left flank and drew 2 Rovers defenders, he got a cut back across goal. Tim Knight evaded his marker at the far side of goal ran onto Owens’ cross and flicked a spin ball into the Rovers net from in front,
Soon after Rovers lost momentum and the punishing fight for possession started to take its toll on both sides. Rams important defensive linchpin Packham retired with a hamstring followed soon after by midfield workhorse Ruhl with a recurring muscle strain. Rovers had to start using their bench as well. Knight went into the defence until injury caught up with him too. Coach Peter Ware brought on 16 year old Daniel Bensley onto the right flank and he played a blinder. His fresh legs helped him carve up the Rovers midfield and the crowd was certainly asking who this new guy was. Just 8 minutes after the last Rams goal, Rams defender Sam Robson saw an opening and took on the whole Rovers defence single handed. He unleashed a shot far too good for the keeper and increased the lead to 3-1. At this point the pinpoint passing, control and total domination by Byron Bay was a joy to watch. Late in the game Barton smashed the demoralised Rovers defence again and passed to Owens hovering on left of goal he turned and shot taking the final score to a convincing 4-1.
Ware was pleased but philosophical with outcome “It was an entertaining game and the lads played well, however its early days with lots of work still to do”. The Rams have moved to the top of their group however next Sunday at 2.30pm they have an away game and take on newly promoted Lennox Head who will be buoyed by their win over Italo Stars this weekend and Lennox will be out to prove themselves.