This is best win ever!’ was the jubilant cry of Rams’ premier division coach Damon Bell when the whistle blew after 110 minutes of frenetic, heart-stopping grandfinal football with his team ahead 2–1.
The game kicked off in the late afternoon light with both sides edgy. In the opening moments, a rare miscalculation saw Rovers keeper caught with the ball by a hard-charging Jono Pierce and the rebound from his aborted clearance put Pierce in front of the net for an easy tap in.
The early goal rattled the Lismore side, fired up the Rams and set the scene for an epic battle. For the next 107 minutes the game raged from end to end, with Rovers pressing hard and Byron responding with relentless and dangerous counterattacks. Twenty-five minutes in, a lofting ball was parried back to the Rovers attack, who managed to return the volley into the net to equalise.
The thrilling contest remained deadlocked at 1–1 into the break. The second half delivered more of the same but with even greater intensity, but at full-time it was still even.
The Rams began to look the stronger side in extra time, with frequent attacks on the Rovers’ goal.
Five minutes into the first half of extra time the Rams had the Rovers goal under seige. A ball was laid back to the feet of Jono Pierce and his perfect 25-metre screamer was unstoppable. The Rams took a 2–1 lead.
Despite some last-ditch attacks from Rovers and some exuberant urging from the vocal crowd, the Rams fought on to take the 2018 title.
It was an extraordinary and gutsy performance from the entire Byron squad and its coaching team.