Story & photo Dogwhistle
The Byron Bay Rams took to the Ballina pitch on Saturday with a new sponsor and a new look for 2015.
Now backed by the Hotel Great Northern, the Rams once again totally dominated coastal rivals, the Ballina Seahorses in both Premiers and Reserves.
While the Reserves didn’t manage to equal the big numbers of their last meeting with Ballina, the 3-2 final score was no indication of the balance of play.
The Byron Reserves completely overwhelmed the second string Seahorses with most of the action played out in the Ballina defensive third.
Nico Rodriguez opened the scoring for Byron with a superb back header. A precise, top-right corner penalty from Steve Kirkpatrick made it 2-0 and tireless all-rounder Jonathan Pierce brought home Byron’s third with an unstoppable long rage drive.
Ballina rattled the cage with two successful counter attacks well against the run of play. It was enough to stir the Rams back into action but, despite countless runs on the Ballina goal, nor more goals eventuated.
The Premier division boys enjoyed more success with plenty of fast and entertaining football and a string of impressive goals.
The Seahorses gave it their all in a tough and physical challenge but were simply outclassed by the polished Byron squad.
Michael Kelly, cut loose on the flanks, showed his prodigious attacking skills and came breathtakingly close with several great strikes in the first half.
The net was equally elusive for big striker James Tomlinson and fireball Conor Cannon. Sam Owens finally found the net for Byron late in the first half.
Conor Cannon’s persistence paid off in the second half with a perfectly weighted free-kick that cleared the wall and the keeper to drop neatly under the bar while a goalmouth melee gave him another. He just missed a hat-trick when his sharp cut across goal ran slightly off line.
Michael Kelly pounced on the errant shot, however, and slid the ball just inside the post. Tireless Ram Jonathan Pierce came of the bench late the second and bagged himself two sweet goals to take his personal tally for the day to three from two and the final score to 6-0.
Despite a strong performance and big results, the Rams still managed to squander many scoring opportunities and both grades could have reached double figures with a just little more quality finishing.
The Rams will be down a few key players going into this Sunday’s home ground clash against arch-rivals Thistles so the much-vaunted depth of the squad will be put to the test.
The Reserves kick of at 12.30pm and the Prems at 2.30pm Sunday.