SURPRISE: Birthday boy Alex Kempnich took the final goal in the Reserves match.
SURPRISE: Birthday boy Alex Kempnich took the final goal in the Reserves match. Dogwhistle

Rams deliver wins despite busy schedule

EARLY season flood events and FFA Cup qualifiers mean the Northern Hotel Byron Bay Rams face a busy schedule getting on track in the FFNC Premiership season.

Last weekend saw the Byron squad in Lismore for a face-off with traditional top-of-of-the-table rivals, Richmond Rovers who sit comfortably at the top of the table.

The Rams, also undefeated but with only three completed rounds this season, were keen to make their mark early.

With regular Prems keeper, Griffin Bambach, out with an injury, Byron had to improvise across the grades. Byron's Reserve grade got off to a shaky start but in the end were too strong for Rovers.

Two goals to Jono Pierce, one to Sam Tomlinson and a cracker to young birthday boy Alex Kempnich gave the Rams a comfortable 4-2 win.

The top squad Rams were equally impressive and despite a dogged fightback from Rovers, the Byron side once again dominated.

Spectacular work from Rovers' keeper Chris Jones kept the Rams at bay until late in the opening half when a corner from Quinn McDonald and a superb long-range header from flanker Sam Owens finally broke the deadlock. Minutes later, Jones clashed with Rams' number 10, Joel Walker, inside the box giving Byron a penalty that was cleanly despatched by Gianluca Bongiovanni to take the Byron lead to 2-0.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, a clean turn and cross from Sam Shepherd put Joel Wood on the spot to take Byron's third goal.

Moments later, a trademark counter saw Rovers slip a face-saving goal past stand-in keeper, veteran Damien Smith. Just two minutes later, history repeated itself with Joel Wood brought down in the Rovers box and Bongiovanni driving home another penalty.

It was a convincing 4-1 win for the Rams and, for the first time in many seasons, there just might be a glimpse of daylight between the competition heavyweights.

While the Rams appear to have the edge, a heavy schedule of makeup games and the FFA Cup qualifiers in Newcastle in the coming weeks will sorely test the depth, fitness and endurance of the Byron squad.

The next challenge for the Premier Rams will be home games at the Recreation Grounds against Alstonville on Saturday, June 3. The Reserves kick off at 1pm and the Prems at 3pm.


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