REMATCH: Byron Bay Rams have won the right to face off against Lismore Thistles in the Football FNC grand final - a match the Rams have already described as a rematch after losing to the Thistles in this year's Anzac Cup.
REMATCH: Byron Bay Rams have won the right to face off against Lismore Thistles in the Football FNC grand final - a match the Rams have already described as a rematch after losing to the Thistles in this year's Anzac Cup. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Byron to ram home advantage in grand final

BYRON Bay has overcome bogey side Lismore Workers to secure its place in Football FNC's premier league grand final against Lismore Thistles next week.

The Rams' 3-1 home win over the Redmen in Saturday's preliminary final gives the Bay its first grand final appearance since they last won the title in 2006.

Byron had failed to beat last year's major premiers in their three previous clashes, but their intensity and speed proved too much for the Redmen.

The Rams newly installed striker James Tomlinson troubled Workers' defence from the outset, using his size and speed to force errors and create opportunities.

One such chance triggered a corner, allowing Tomlinson to pounce on a loose ball and score their opening goal with a stooping header.

After failing to score against Workers in their last two games, the goal gave the Rams confidence and their constant harassing in defence forced the Redmen out of their usual game plan.

Workers' best chance of the first half fell to Max Harlan, but his miss left them still trailing at the break.

Soon after the restart another Rams corner saw Lachlan Dewar deliver a whipped ball into the box, where Herrick Schulaman soared high above the pack to drive a spectacular header into the back of the net.

With their season on the line, Workers responded and Kurt Walker hit a dipping shot that forced a fingertip save from Rams keeper Pierce Essery.

But Essery couldn't stop a close range tap in from Workers striker Wayne Mortimer, after a corner triggered a goalmouth scramble.

Encouraged by the goal, Workers lifted and rattled the crossbar following a free kick soon after.

But as Workers pushed forward searching for a late equaliser, Tomlinson caught them out at the back when he ran onto a ball from Seb Bell.

He broke free of his marker to sprint into the box and slotted a clinical finish to end Workers' hopes for consecutive titles.

The win booked Rams' berth in the grand final against Lismore Thistles.

"We had a game plan to keep them under pressure and it worked," Rams coach Damon Bell said.

"The guys also drew motivation from a few things, including the pain of losing the Anzac Cup final to Thistles earlier this year. 

Now we've got a chance to make up for it against them next week."

While Tomlinson's two goal performance stole much of the limelight, midfielders Schulaman, Tom Inoue and Seb Bell all had strong games.



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