New-look Rams find their feet, get Rovers on their horns
BYRON Bay's new-look lineup has quickly found its feet, with a solid 3-1 home win over Richmond Rovers in the opening round of FFNC's Tursa Anzac Cup on Sunday.
In a re-match of last year's grand final, the two sides produced a high intensity contest, but it was the Rams' superior finishing that proved the difference.
Midfielders Herrick Schuleman and Todd Knaus also played important roles, with Schuleman setting up James Tomlinson for the Rams' opening goal before Knauss laid on the second for Will Ennis.
Rovers clawed their way back into the game with a second half penalty from Russell Dent, but Byron wrapped up the win with a breakaway goal from speedster Tyson Kane to wrap up the 3-1 scoreline.
"I'm just happy the boys played well together and we're getting a sense of playing as a team" said the Rams' new coach Jeremy Sutton.
"But there's plenty of room for improvement and we've still got some quality overseas players in the wings waiting for clearances by the time the premiership starts."
Sutton praised his central defenders James Packham and Michael Kelly for their resilience at the back, while Rovers' new coach Bobby Bugden was clear on the reasons for his team's loss.
"We created plenty of chances which was encouraging, but we just didn't convert," he said.
Dent, Michael Field and Daniel Flynn stood out for Rovers and despite the loss they showed enough to suggest they will still be among the front runners this year.
Casino has returned to the top flight in style with a confidence-boosting 3-0 home win over a depleted Lismore Workers.
The Cobras started slowly, but once they settled a Jordan Huxley cross set up Nathan Scully for their opening goal.
A close range finish from Dean Casey doubled their lead by half time, with former Workers player Zac Innes netting their third after the break.
"It was a good first run but we're not getting carried away," said Cobras coach Shane Hogan.
Hogan praised 16-year-old flanker Huxley, Joseph Ervine and Dylan Clark in the unaccustomed role of defence as their best performers.
Lennox Head and Alstonville played out a scoreless draw at Skenners Head, with the Sharks probably unlucky not to steal the win.
Villa went into the game as favourites after two recent wins over the Sharks, but disappointed coach Mark Ambler described their showing as "very poor", with keeper Peter Weingarth keeping them in the game with some fine saves.