Champagne, canapés and a goal rush

IT was all champagne, canapés and fancy hats at the grand opening of the brand new Bangalow playing fields on Saturday.

After the official party cut the ribbon, football fans were treated to a fabulous afternoon of Premier League football.

There were two Premier Division games to be played between arch-rivals the Byron Bay Rams and Bangalow Blue Dogs.

The Premier Reserves teams were the first to test the new turf and the huge crowd went wild when Byron’s Thiago Priori christened the net with the first of his three goals.

The Rams midfield - Mark Shepherd, Sam Clark and Jim Gelagotis showed their experience closing down each Bangalow attacking run.

Mark Shepherd added his name to the score sheet with a beautiful volley into the net.

A mistake in the Rams backline allowed the Blue Dogs to finally break through and talented keeper Alex Gray couldn’t quite reach it.

Late in the game Rams youngster Nolan Pierce showed his determination with a run through the Bangalow defence line and blasted the ball past the keeper. The final score was 5-1 to Byron.

The fans had come to see the local derby between bitter rivals, and the players didn’t disappoint.

A shot on the Blue Dogs goal in the first minute to test their defence wasn’t the start the young Bangalow squad wanted.

The Bay’s John Bradbury raced down the left flank past the team benches and hit a cross over the Bangalow defence to young Tim Knight manoeuvring on the right of the goalmouth.

He took control and bounced it passed the keeper, and had the large contingent of Rams fans on their feet.

Less than five minutes later Bradbury started an exact copy attack however this time keeper Alex Pratt was able to get his hands to Knight’s shot.

Rob Cooper and the other Blue Dogs defenders worked tirelessly to stop the relentless Rams attacks that were coming from everywhere.

Blue Dogs playmaker Joel Rudgley was exceptional in the midfield but the Rams trio of Jed Wright, Sam Owens and Jordy Campbell had his measure.

Bradbury seemed unstoppable and seemed to break through at will on the left wing. With incredible speed he was able to unload a high cross to Tommy Ruhl.

Ruhl saw the keeper was off his line and chipped it over his head for the eighth goal of the afternoon.

Rams coach Peter Ware put Bruce Morhaus into the sweeper role with sweeper Ian Lennie sidelined due to an injury at training.

Morhaus seemed to really enjoy the job and with pace man Jonathan Pierce and young Yantra Whitling either side they had no problem stopping the Blue Dogs strikers.

Just before the half time break Jordy Campbell pushed through the centre and put a diagonal pass through to Knight who sprinted behind the Blue Dogs defenders and unload a fantastic strike to score his second goal.

Bangalow came back out on the new turf with a vengeance in the 2nd half.

Cale Johnstone and Connor Benfield created their best opportunities of the game and put Rams Keeper Kai Connell to the test.

With 15 minutes to go Bradbury slipped a ball to Sam Owen in front of goal but he had to go wide past two defenders before twisting around, and with an incredible reverse volley, smashed the ball into the net.

In the final moments Louie Muller broke through the Rams defence and keeper Kai Connell had to use all of his skill to wrap up his shot.

The final score was 4-0 and the win was the Rams fourth in a row. Coach Peter Ware was happy his lads didn’t concede any goals this week and just as happy they’ve scored 14 goals in their last 3 games.

This Saturday afternoon at 3pm the Rams Premiers play away to Ballina.

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