The Northern Hotel Rams faced southern neighbours Lennox Head Sharks for the second time in as many weeks last Friday on a very dark winter evening at the Byron Recreation Grounds.
The Byron squad is battling the usual mid-season injuries, and with the extra catch-up and FFA Cup games taking a heavy toll, a few key players from both grades were unavailable.
After their first defeat in many months, the all-conquering Rams reserves were a little more wary in their approach to this match.
Not quite in the form that delivered a 13–0 mauling of the Sharks two weeks ago, the Rams still had the upper hand by a wide margin.
First points on the board came from Rams flanker Hari Scott who absolutely belted a goal home from the side of the box.
Sammy Owens was next up and Sam Durkin came off the bench to drive home a winner to make it 3–0.
After grinding out a tough 3–2 win in their last Lennox encounter, the Premier Division Rams flexed a little more muscle in this round, comfortably dominating the Sharks in a 5–1 drubbing.
Byron hit the go pedal from the opening whistle, chasing another early goal to signal their intent.
Five minutes in, a clumsy shoulder charge inside the Lennox box handed Joel Wood a penalty that he duly despatched, giving Byron their valuable early lead.
Fifteen minutes in, a powerful cross from Jono Pierce was smashed into the net by striker Sam Shepherd. The combination struck again seven minutes later when another pass from Pierce sent Sam on a cross-goal run though the Lennox defence and another power drive made it 3–0 to Byron.
Lennox’s forays into the Byron half were met by the Rams’ polished midfield and defence. Quinn McDonald, Ben Ahern and James Tomlinson owned the pitch and their smooth build-up left the Sharks floundering.
Thirty-five minutes in, a through ball from McDonald propelled Shepherd into the zone to complete a first-half hat-trick and take Byron’s fourth goal.
By the second session, the relentless pace began to tell on both sides. A miscommunication in the Byron backline gifted an own-goal to Lennox and, while the pace continued, some of the polish – and accuracy – began to fade.
The Rams hammered the Lennox goal mercilessly for the remainder of the match, with shots from the Byron attack skimming over the bar, around the posts or into the outstretched arms of the courageous Sharks’ keeper.
Late in the match Sam Shepherd again broke through the Lennox line, outran the desperate defence and took his fourth goal sealing the Rams’ 5–1 win.
Byron’s gruelling catch-up schedule continues, with five games inside two weeks!