Soccer: Rams ready to take on Rovers
BYRON Bay has set up a tantalising Anzac Cup final showdown with arch rivals Richmond Rovers after a hard fought 1-0 home win over Lismore Thistles in Sunday's semi final.
Former Queensland State League player Aaron Walker has been shining since joining the Rams this year, and capped another strong performance with the winning goal late in the first half.
A defence splitting through ball from Lachlan Dewer set up Walker, who took a touch or two before slotting a clean finish past Blues goal keeper Nathan White.
Thistles were left to rue a couple of missed opportunities just after the Rams goal, with Luke Kennedy missing a clear cut chance and Will Parsons putting a close range header over the bar.
It was a bruising encounter played at high intensity, with several players needing attention for head knocks and no shortage of committment from both sides.
But it was Byron who went on to have the better of the second half, holding possession for longer periods and giving Thistles limited opportunities to attack.
"We got our combinations working and our fitness levels were good, which allowed us to finish strongly" Rams co-coach Damon Bell said.
"We were also patient in possession when we had to be and that allowed us to control large parts of the game."
Bell praised Walker, Dewer and Lucas O'Dennell for big contributions, while Blues coach Craig Kennedy was gracious in defeat.
"I rate them big time, they're a very good side" Kennedy said.
"But I couldn't be prouder of my guys, they gave it everything but we just met a better side on the day."
The Cup final will now be a re-match of the last two grand finals between the minor and major premiers, in a classic confrontation for the first silverware of the season.