Rams run Rampant over faded Italo Stars in Anzac Cup opener

Tim Knight slicing the Stars midfield (image: dogwhistle)

Byron Bay Rams Premier division head coach Peter Ware has returned after a year off, to rebuild the decimated Premier division squad.  Thirteen players left the squad at the end of last season after a very troubled year. However Ware is confident he can quickly get the Rams back to a force to be reckoned with, combining a very strong core of loyal, seasoned performers with some exceptionally gifted new players and a few talented young guns keen to make their mark. So on Sunday the untried Rams squad was keen to show they had the potential to be Anzac Cup finalists once again.

The first 5 minutes didn’t go Byron’s way with 3 consecutive Stars attacks and shots on their goalmouth. The shots were all off target but it was the wake up call the Rams needed. At the 7 minute mark Aaron Richter Steers put a deft touch on the ball and flicked it to Tim Knight on the right flank. He used his incredible speed to blast through the Stars defence and dribble the ball to the back line then turned it back to slam it past the keeper and take first blood. Minutes later Knight again carved through the Stars midfield with a fast break and took the ball to space at the backline and crossed a beautiful ball to Tommy Ruhl for the shot but he couldn’t quite finish however Yantra Whitling made sure it went past the keeper 2-0.

Aaron Richter Steers controlling the midfield (image: dogwhistle)

The hot conditions were draining on both sides but 30 seconds before the drinks break Ruhl overpowered the Stars midfield and passed a well weighted ball to new Brazilian signing Victor Peres in front of goal. He unleashed a shot so hard and fast into the back of the net the young Stars keeper didn’t know what happened 3-0.  Although the Rams looked a little untidy and undecided at times and certainly not up to full fitness yet, they were overwhelming Stars all over the paddock and they seemed a shadow of the team that gave the Rams so much grief last season.

While Shaun Packham, Ian Lennie and Layton Barton controlled all the Stars advances in the Rams backine, it left new Rams goalkeeper Pierce Essery (ex Workers) few opportunities to show his skills. Overlapping flankers Sam Robson, Jonno Pierce and Herick Shuenemann on the left and 16 year old Dan Bensley and Knight on the right had almost free reign on the wings, creating attacks at will.

Sam Robson making a break (image: dogwhistle)

With just 3 minutes remaining in the first half Tane Meek battled his way through the Stars midfield and defence on his own. He crossed for Pierce and he sent it on to powerhouse Richter Steers. He headed the ball just hitting the crossbar and Ruhl pounced on the rebound to score 4-0.

With a 4 goal buffer it gave the Rams some breathing space in the second half. The heat was taking its toll and Stars came back fighting to get on the scoreboard however all their shots missed their mark. However replacement Rams goalkeeper Lachlan Baynes pulled off some cracker saves that would surely have allowed Stars to catch up.  The Rams playmakers were still busy pounding the Stars backline however they just couldn’t seem to finish in the second half. Lennie, Richter Steers and Packham kept the Rams defence solid until the 80 minute mark when Stars Striker Mark Mazlin found a hole and managed to restore some pride in the Stars camp with an excellent goal, taking the final score to 4-1

Next Sunday the Rams take on arch rivals Lismore Rovers at home at the recreation grounds at 2.30pm and they are expecting a good crowd to watch what is always hard fought, entertaining football in the FFNC match of the round when these two teams do battle.

Rick Knight

Click here to view more images in the gallery »