Damon Bell’s Park Hotel Byron Bay Rams have, for the second year running, battled their way into the Grand Finals of both the Premier and Premier Reserves Division. In a week of powerful and entertaining football the Premier Rams confirmed their dominance of the division and secured their Grand Final spot with a thumping 4-1 win over second placed Richmond Rovers at the Rec Grounds on Tuesday night. Despite some dangerous counter-attacks from a spirited Rovers, the result never looked to be in doubt.
The Rams attack set up camp in the Rovers half an hammered the Rovers defenders for much of the game. A free-kick won on one of Rovers’ forays into Byron territory put the Lismore squad on the board, but they were no match for the Rams slick, fast and relentless attacking game.
A diving header from Kazuhiro Tsukamoto opened the account for Byron. A neat tap in from James Tomlinson made it two and an exquisite long-ranger from Conner Cannon and a header from Herick Schuenemann cemented Grand Final favouritism for the Rams.
After finishing fifth in the pointscore competition, the Rams Reserves had to beat the fourth, third and second placed squads (three games in nine days!) to make it to their Grand Final. The Reserves have had a mixed season, with a run of six draws seeing a quality side struggle to reach the finals. Having made the cut, however, the Ressies have hit their straps and, in some spectacular performances, have fought their way through.
Saturday September 5 saw the second string Rams take a convincing 3-0 win over 4th placed Lismore Thistles and, the following Wednesday night, completely dominate their Semi against Alstonville to come away with a 1-0 win. On Saturday, the 14th, the Rams travelled to a very hot Lismore to take on second placed Lismore Workers. Byron seemed to have the edge over a tough and determined Workers but as the contest swung from end to end, neither squad managed to find the net.
After ninety gruelling minutes, the match was still locked at 0-0. Twenty minutes of extra time failed to break the impasse and the match went to a penalty shoot-out.
As the crowd and players held their collective breath, player after player stepped up to face the keepers. A miss from each side had the crowd on tenterhooks but a suburb save from stand-in keeper Damien Smith gave Byron the edge. The winning goal was slotted home by defender Theo Pavil to take the Rams through to a hard won Grand Final spot.
With the Premier Rovers having won their second-chance semi against Workers, the season finale will be Byron Bay-V-Richmond Rovers in both divisions.
The Grand Finals will be played at Oakes Oval in Lismore next Saturday (September 20) with the Reserves kick-off at 4.15 and the Premier League at 7pm.
Be there for what promises to be the best football of the season!
[mainpic] MAINPIC / Keeper Damien Smith saves the day for the Rams Reserves! click any image to view the full gallery / all images © Dogwhistle Creative[/mainpic]