Byron Rams claim their first premiership win in seven years
A BLISTERING first-half performance from Byron Bay laid the platform for the Rams' first major premiership in seven years.
Two goals from Sam Owens gave the Rams a 2-1 win over minor premiers Lismore Thistles in Football FNC men's premier division grand final.
The Rams attacked from the outset of Saturday night's contest with strikers James Tomlinson and Seb Bell carving holes in the Blues usually reliable defence.
It took just ten minutes before they scored their opening goal, with Bell beating his marker to dart along the byline and cross for Sam Owens to tap in at the far post.
The goal rattled Thistles and their usual cohesion went missing as they struggled to contain the waves of attacks from the Rams.
Blues custodian Brad Robertson had to make several vital saves, but just before half-time he was beaten again when Owens evaded the attention of two Thistles defenders to slip the ball past the advancing goalkeeper and into the net.
Shortly into the second half Thistles' hopes of a fightback were diminished with a red card for striker Nathan McCann.
This allowed Byron to control most of the game and while they didn't show the same attacking intent as the first half, they still played with more intensity.
"I thought we showed more hunger and were match-hardened after tough wins over Workers and Rovers in the last two weeks," Rams coach Damon Bell said.
"But we had a lot of guys carrying injuries. We were battered and bruised from the Rovers game and knew we had to be leading by half-time".
Seb Bell was named man of the match while Tomlinson was also outstanding, along with Owens and their solid back four.
"In hindsight their momentum was too much for us," disappointed Thistles coach Craig Kennedy said.
"Unfortunately we saved our worst game until last.
"But congratulations to Byron, they out-enthused us and were the better side, they deserved to win".
Despite the disappointment of missing out on the treble, winning the Anzac Cup and minor premiership still makes this season the Blues' most successful in 21 years.
There was also some consolation for Thistles in the reserve division grand final, with a 3-1 win over Byron Bay securing the premiership double.
Sequoya Rawson Smith opened the scoring for the Rams, but the Blues immediately responded with two quick goals from 'man of the match' Luke Kennedy, followed by a third from Joel McClennand.