Story & photo Dogwhistle
Another weekend of mixed fortunes for the Northern Hotel Byron Bay Rams saw the Premiers extend their championship lead to seven points while the Reserve grade slipped from the top rung of the ladder for the first time this season.
The Reserve Grade
The Rams’ over-endowment with playing talent and the subsequent substitutions seemed to unsettle the Reserve grade for the second week running. Despite clearly dominating for most of the match, Byron’s second string never quite settled into its comfortable goal scoring zone.
Last week, the Reserves squandered a convincing 2–0 first-half lead to go down to Thistles 4–3. This week’s match against Workers reversed that order, with a slightly scrappy first half and a more structured and cohesive second half. The Rams had the best of play in both halves – completely dominating the second – but, despite attacking the goal relentlessly and suffering many oh-so-near-misses, Byron couldn’t find the net.
Workers opened the scoring eight minutes in against the run of play with Conor Cannon equalising three minutes later. From there it was 80 minutes of attack and counterattack that bore no fruit. The final 1–1 score allowed arch rival Rovers to slip into a two-point lead. With six games left in championships, the Reserves have a good chance of retaking top spot.
The Premier League
The Premiers’ match was another strong and classy performance from the League’s reigning pointscore champions. Like the Reserves, however, the goal tally didn’t reflect the performance on the pitch. Workers, fighting hard to keep their semifinal hopes alive, did make the Rams work for the win but were somewhat flattered by the 2–1 finish.
Dogged defence and courageous keeping held the Byron attack at bay until the 26th minute when a superb cross from Tyson Kaye found the flying head of Michael Kelly. Kelly’s second perfect header in as many weeks gave Byron the lead.
Early in the second half, a thirty-metre screamer from Workers left the Byron defence helpless and gave Workers their equaliser. The Rams rallied strongly but another thirty minutes of intense pressure from Herick Schuenemann, Tyson Kaye, James Tomlinson, and Michael Kelly failed to deliver a deciding goal.
Rams ’keeper Chris Jones read a Workers penalty to make a brilliant save and deny Workers the lead.
In the game’s dying minutes, Conor Cannon came from the bench and, after besting three scrambling Workers defenders, threaded a low ball between another three and past the keeper to take the match decider.
Now seven points clear of their nearest challenger, the Rams are chasing down their second consecutive pointscore championship.
After this Tuesday night’s catch-up round against last- placed Ballina, Byron travels to Casino on Saturday for what is always a tough and physically demanding clash.