Rovers want the double

RICHMOND Rovers are celebrating after being crowned minor premiers of Football FNC's Premier League. Despite racking up their third game in a row without a win, a 3-3 draw with Lennox Head at Oakes Oval on Saturday was enough to give Rovers a four-point buffer over second-placed Italo Stars going into next week's final round. At just 24, Rovers player-coach Tim Sheridan is thought to be the youngest to lead a club to a minor premiership at the top level and is now focusing on the next step. "It was my goal at the start of the season to finish on top of the ladder, but I still feel like the job is only half done," Sheridan said. "I'd like to create a bit of club history by going all the way for the premiership double. We've only had two and the last was over 20 years ago." The new minor premiers started sluggishly against a well-drilled Sharks outfit, going down two goals after just 12 minutes. A defensive misunderstanding created an opportunity for Josh Campbell to score the opening goal for the Sharks and soon after a quick interchange of passes across the edge of the box saw Paul Kirkland blast in their second. Lennox dominated the first half, holding their shape well and controlling possession, but the complexion of the game changed within minutes of the restart. Rovers' deadly strikers Troy Matthews and Matthew Olley scored a goal apiece within three minutes. Lennox regained the lead when a cross from Mario Tinning came off the woodwork to Paul Kirkland, who rattled in the Sharks third goal. Rovers' equaliser finally came when Aaron Heffernan raced into space and forced a desperate tackle from a defender, which pushed the ball into the Sharks' net. Best for the Sharks were Josh Campbell, who relished the move to central midfield, along with Mike Raeburn and flankers Tinning and Andrew Lundie. The result leaves the Sharks in fifth place and in danger of missing the semis. Despite this, Sharks coach Mark Ambler is happy with his side's form, building up to next week's critical clash with Byron Bay. But he was left to rue what could have been. "Mentally we stayed in the dressing room at half-time for three minutes too long," he said. Hornets alive !GOONELLABAH remains in hot pursuit of a place in the top five after producing its best game of the season to down Maclean 3-2 on the Bobcats' home turf. A Hornets win looked unlikely after they trailed 2-0 just 10 minutes into the game, with Travis Armstrong twice pouncing on loose balls in the box for a blitzkrieg opening from the Bobcats. Despite the horror start, Goonellabah drew one goal back by half time, thanks to a clean turn and finish from Dave Arnett. The Hornets' passing game allowed them to get on top after the break, with midfielder Kale Hopper capping a man-of-the-match performance with their second goal. The scales continued to tilt in the Hornets' favour after the Bobcats flanker Jeremy Walters was sent off and with 15 minutes to go Peter O'Neil hit a superb 30-metre drive into the top corner for the winner. "I'm proud of the side for the way they played, in that form we can beat any side," said an elated coach, Brendan Logan. The result lifts Goonellabah to within a point of the top five. With only Rovers and Stars assured of their place in the semis, four sides Byron, Maclean, Lennox and Goonellabah are vying for the remaining three places. If the Hornets down Workers as expected, goal difference could be needed to determine who misses out. Rams stutter !BYRON Bay's stuttering season has taken yet another twist, with a surprise 1-1 home draw with bogey side Lismore Workers putting the reigning premiers' place in the semis under threat. Workers had an upset 2-1 win over the Rams in their first-round encounter and once again on Saturday proved a handful, with Sam Ferronato scoring the opening goal. The Bay drew level by half-time thanks to a well-taken goal from Shaun Packham. Byron now need to win their final round game against Lennox Head next week to guarantee a place in the major semi, while a draw will be enough to ensure a top five finish. Spoon-fed Bandits !BURRINGBAR will take at least one souvenir from its debut season in the premier league, after a 4-1 home loss to Ballina ensured the Bandits will inherit the wooden spoon. Goals from Chris Schomberg, Tyson Price, Dane Seymore and Cyrus Hawkins gave the Seahorses an emphatic win, but they are destined to finish in seventh or eighth place after a sporadic season.

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