Story & photo Dogwhistle
The Northern Hotel Byron Bay Rams went into Sunday’s clash with league leaders, Richmond Rovers, with another new lineup thanks to their ongoing staffing woes. Draftees from other grades featured in both games but the Rams’ determination and competitive spirit were undiminished – The final score lines were remarkably unrepresentative of the play.
The Rams Reserves battled hard in an end-to-end struggle that saw them scoreless into the break. Rovers broke the deadlock fifteen minutes into the second half and five minutes later a long-ball led to their second.
A third Rovers goal sealed the match for the Lismore Reserves against a much closer run of play.
The Premier Division match started inauspiciously for the Rams with a first-minute rush on the Byron goals and a clearance from Byron keeper Griffin Bambach that rebounded off the oncoming striker into the net. Stung by the setback, the Rams pressed hard and forced Rovers into a scrambling ten-man defence of their lead.
The play was all Byron, with the Rovers’ keeper hammered by shots from all sides and screaming at his defence for support.
Fifteen minutes in a long-ball counterattack and tidy attacking gave Rovers their second goal leading into the break.
The contest intensified in the second half, with Rovers fighting to keep their advantage and the Rams pulling out all the stops. As pressure mounted, the match became more physical and a free corner kick from Thiago Priori found the head of James Tomlinson to put the Rams back into the game.
Five minutes later, a Sam Owens cross beat the Rovers’ defence and the equaliser was driven into the net by a hard-charging Herick Schuenemann.
The remaining twenty-five minutes produced a relentless onslaught from Will Ennis, Aaron Walker, Tyson Kaye and the entire Byron midfield.
Despite a powerful performance from the Rams’ squad and standouts Walker, Schuenemann, McDonald, Altarui and Ennis, the match remained locked at 2–2 down to the end.
The draw keeps Byron in touch with leaders Goonellabah and Rovers going into Round 9 against Alstonville at home this Saturday. Reserves kick off at 1pm and the Prems at 3pm.