Semi Final berth for Byron Rams in Anzac Cup

Tommy Ruhl (image: dogwhistle)

A Byron Bay Rams Premier division football squad unbeaten run to the Anzac Cup semi finals was looking shaky on Sunday. The Rams went into the match against the newly promoted Lennox Head Sharks as firm favourites on recent form however the Sharks had other ideas. The players found it hard to control the ball on the very soft and wind blown Skennars Head pitch. With just two minutes gone Sharks striker Paul Kirkland forced his way through a complacent and unprepared Rams defence and scored their first goal. The shocked Rams side rallied, and then started to take control and didn’t seem to let the 1 goal deficit worry them. The wind and very soft ground was playing havoc with the passing accuracy but it didn’t stop the attacks on goal and the Rams had by far the lion’s share of possession and although their build ups were good they were rushing their final shots and passes. However at the 20 minute mark Rams coach Peter Ware made a tactical substitute, bringing on new signing Lachlan Dewar into the midfield.  Immediately after, Tommy Ruhl was able to break free down the right flank evading three defenders and firing a scorcher into the Sharks net to even the score. Within 2 minutes Ruhl had scored his second goal after Dewar showed deft skill busting past three players in the Lennox defence. He flicked it on to Ruhl standing in front and he made it look easy just tapping it past the Sharks keeper to take the lead 2-1. The Rams started to settle into a rhythm and Sharks defenders Jonathan Green, Alex Ohm and Micky Rayburn were starting to have to work really hard to stave off the constant attacks from the Rams playmakers Jonno Pierce, Sam Robson, Sammy Owen and Yantra Whitling.

Daniel Benseley (image: dogwhistle)

In the second half the Rams really showed their dominance with the ball passing and creating chances at will. Their midfielders Victor Pires, Aaron Richter-Steers, Layton Barton and Dewar overpowered the Lennox attacks.  Early on in the half Rams flanker Herick Schuenemann took a beautiful ball down left wing and crossed to mercurial striker Ruhl manoeuvring in front of goal he put it in the net for his hat trick. The sharks didn’t give up hope and although they were outclassed, saw the Rams were relaxing.  A technical foul with a pass back by the Rams keeper resulted in a free kick and Sharks big striker Paul Kirkland slammed it into the net to reduce the deficit 3-2.

Sam Robson (image: dogwhistle)

The sharks were looking for a bit more luck and found it with just 5 minutes to play with the Rams keeper beaten and an almighty strike on the goal. Unfortunately for the Sharks it ricocheted off the crossbar and the Rams had an uneasy few minutes till the final whistle and a final score of 3-2.  After the game both coaches made the comment that Byron deserved to win however Football is a fickle game and although Byron was much more dominant, it could have easily been a draw at the end.  Rams coach Peter Ware was adamant with his team “we must never again underestimate any team in this competition or we will pay a heavy price”.

Next Sunday the Park Hotel sponsored Rams will take on the strong Lismore Thistles squad in a do or die match to determine one of the Anzac Cup grand finalists.

Rick Knight

Byron Bay v Lismore Thistles - Sunday 25 March - Kick off 4:30pm at Bill Harris Field, East Lismore Lismore Richmond Rovers Home Ground (click here to view it on the map)