The Great Northern Byron Bay Rams and the Rails Wildcats went up against traditional rivals Lismore Thistles at the Byron Recreation Grounds last Sunday.
Fans looked forward to a close and hard fought display of quality football and this round delivered in spades.
The Reserve grade opened proceedings – and confirmed the depth of the squad – with a resounding 5-0 win over the Thistles second string.
Tane Meek put the Rams on the board early, catching an errant bicycle shot from striker Steve Kirkpatrick on the volley and blasting it into the net. Skipper Tom Ruhl was next, drawing the keeper into a fatal goal kick error and gleefully punishing the mistake. Tom followed that up with a deft tap to George Martin in front of goal who finished with equal aplomb.
Steve Kirkpatrick rubbed salt into the wound in the second half, beating the Thistles defence and keeper and then finishing with what may have been the slowest goal in living memory. Tom Ruhl beat the keeper next to pop in his second for the day rounding out a very decisive 5-0 win.
wildcats division 2
On field 2, the Rails Wildcats women’s Division 2 faced a resolute Lismore Thistles. Having suffered a 5-2 defeat by the Wildcats three weeks earlier, the Lismore girls were looking for revenge.
Thistles came into the game fighting hard and pressured the Wildcats defense. The Byron girls held on and soon found their feet with a power drive goal from Elly Dove 20 mins in.
The Wildcats created many more scoring opportunities, but Thistles held them to 1-0 into the break. Byron took complete control in the second half, with good linking football on, and off the ball. Thistles fought back hard but couldn’t contain the Wildcats. Elly Dove took two more goals to complete her hat-trick and seal the Wildcats’ 3-0 victory.
wildcats division 4
The 4th division Wildcats had a 1-0 loss to Goonellabah against the run of play lost Sunday.
The Wildcats now face Italo Stars in the final of Callan McMillan Shield this Friday Night at 7:40 at Oaks Oval Lismore.
The men’s Premier Division match on Field One proved to a fast and furious clash between two of the league’s top teams. The Northern Rams looked the stronger unit from the outset, dominating play and hammering the Thistles defence. Not to be underestimated, the Lismore boys countered strongly and first half penalties gave Thistles a substantial lead and a big confidence boost.
The Byron squad kept their heads up and pressured the Thistles defenders right into the break. A nasty tackle on Byron Striker, Conor Cannon saw Thistles defender Zac Wilson red carded and gave the Rams the breathing room they needed. The Rams produced some superb football in the second half, with repeated forays by speedster Tyson Kaye unsettling the Thistles defence. Kaye put Byron back in the match, cutting through the Thistles back line and finishing cleanly.
The Rams stepped up a gear and, after more strong attacking football, were rewarded with goal an equaliser when Michael Kelly drove home a huge and unstoppable strike from 25 metres out. Italian newcomer, Emanuel Altadari, finished the incredible comeback by driving home a rebound in the closing minutes of an epic struggle. A very sweet 3-2 win for the Rams that keeps them two pints clear at the top of the table going into round four.
With all eyes on Oakes Oval for the Callan McMillan Shield on Friday night and the Anzac Cup on Saturday, the next outing for the Rams will be a visit to Lismore on Saturday May 2 to meet Lismore Workers.
Reserves kick off at 1pm and the Prems at 2pm.