Rams on the double
A DOUBLE from Jonathan Pierce highlighted a 2-1 win for Byron Bay over Richmond Rovers in the Far North Coast premier division soccer grand final.
Pierce's effort proved decisive and earned him the Terry Greedy Medal as player of the match at Crozier Field, Lismore, on Saturday night.
The Rams prevailed in extra time to go back-to-back for the first time since 2005-06.
Byron struck first through Pierce, who dispossessed Rovers goalkeeper Chris Jones and finished into an empty net to put his side ahead in the fifth minute.
Rovers levelled midway through the first half when Brad Bugden slammed home an effort from close range after the Byron defence failed to clear a Jayden Scutt corner.
Despite both sides enjoying strong spells of possession, neither was able to find the go-ahead goal and the scores remained level at the end of 90 minutes, sending the game into extra time.
Pierce came up with what proved to be the decisive goal in the 95th minute when he rifled home a stunning first-time effort into the top corner from range.
The grand final reached boiling point in the second half of extra time as Byron midfielder Herrick Schueneman received his marching orders after a second yellow card for a foul on Scutt.
Despite playing a man down, the Rams held on to claim a third grand final win in six years.
Damon Bell said the win was a special moment as he went back-to-back for the first time in his tenure as Byron Bay coach.
"In some ways with this side it was more special this year,” he said.
"It was nearly all local boys whereas in the past we've had players from all over the place.
"It was pretty hard fought.
"I thought they dominated for periods but I also thought we had spells of dominance too.
"We had plenty of chances and in the end took enough of them to win.”
Rovers coach Todd Jones said that despite the defeat he was proud of all his players.
"We had heaps of chances to win and just didn't take them, that's what cost us at the end of the day,” he said.
"We won the comp by more than 15 points this year. You can't take that away from the boys; it's an awesome effort and something I think other clubs would struggle to do.
"I'm hugely proud of the boys and everyone involved this year.
"I have no doubt we'll be back bigger and better next season.”
Rovers also went down in the premier reserve grand final 3-0 to Lismore Thistles, while Shores United defeated Ballina on penalties in the men's first division grand final.