Words and pic Dogwhistle
With a nail-biting extra-time win over Lismore Thistles at the Rec Grounds on Sunday, the Byron Bay Services Club Rams have secured a spot in this year’s premier division grandfinal.
They will be joining their Reserve Grade brethren in contesting their sixth grandfinal of the last seven years and aiming for a record third consecutive championship.
The Thistles set out to make their mark early, attacking the Rams’ goal ferociously from the kickoff. The Rams defended and quickly quelled the Thistles’ initial rush-of-blood and the game settled into a vigorous end-to-end tussle for most of the first half.
Byron’s Golden Boot, Lisandro Luaces, finally broke the seal 44 minutes in, pouncing on a through-ball and driving home the Rams’ first goal of the day.
The intensity ratcheted up a notch in the second half with both sides determined to claim the grandfinal spot. Five minutes into the second half and a clash between the Thistles’ striker and Byron’s flying goalkeeper, Pierce Essery, yielded a penalty to the Lismore side.
Thistles converted to take the scoreline to 1–1 and began a dogged battle for the upper hand. The match see-sawed for the remaining 40 minutes of regular time, with both teams making chances but failing to capitalise on them.
In the dying moments of the second session of extra time, with a penalty shootout looming, fiery young sub Zac Miletic sliced through the Thistles’ mid and defensive lines, snapped a pass to Rick Muir who sent it on to Jono Pierce.
Pierce’s perfectly timed strike left the Thistles’ keeper no chance, and the jubilant Rams and the big crowd erupted in celebration.
The Rams now face South Lismore at Crozier Field in Lismore for retiring coach Damon Bell’s sixth Grandfinal and, hopefully, his third win on the trot.
The Reserve grade kick off their Grand Final at 3pm, and the Prems at 5.30, this Saturday, September 21.