Walker gives Rovers not-so-secret weapon in Byron rematch
THE surprise signing of former Workers midfielder Kurt Walker has been a timely boost for Richmond Rovers on the eve of their grand final rematch against Byron Bay at the Bay tomorrow in Far North Coast premier league soccer.
Walker left the Redmen to join Murwillumbah in the Gold Coast premier league at the start of the season, but will now become part of Rovers' powerful midfield line-up alongside Russell Dent and Reid Brewer-Charles.
"It's great to have a top quality midfielder like Kurt at the club, but we won't put any pressure on him, we just want him to enjoy himself," Rovers coach Bobby Bugden said.
The timing couldn't be better for Rovers, with the major premiers just three points behind the league-leading Rams, who are in devastating form after winning all seven of their games.
While Byron boast the best attack in the league, Rovers have the best defensive record, setting the stage for a fascinating rematch of the 2014 grand final, narrowly won by Rovers.
"We've been looking forward to this game for a long time," Byron Bay coach Jeremy Sutton said.
- Byron Bay 21
- Richmond Rovers 18
- Lismore Workers 14
- Alstonville 13 (game in hand)
- Lismore Thistles 10
- Goonellabah 7
- Lennox Head 7 (game in hand)
- Casino 4
- Bangalow 2
- Ballina 1
"Rovers play an uncompromising, attacking game and on paper the two sides look very even, so it's a big challenge for us, but that's why we play the game."
With a full-strength line-up on home turf the Rams will start slight favourites and will look to the Packham brothers to maintain their good form at the back.
Their new signings in Italian defender Emanuele Altarvi, Arg-entinian midfielder Alejo Villasana and former Apia speedster Tyson Kaye have settled nicely into their well-drilled line-up.
Rovers will be at full strength if striker Matthew Olley gets over a niggling injury, but will have their fitness tested as they play their third game in a week.
"It was a tough win over Goonellabah on Tuesday, but we had a light training on Thursday and we're ready for a game that could define our season," Bugden said.
Kick-off is 2.30pm.
Three games will be played today, highlighted by Lennox Head's home clash with Workers starting at 3pm.
With Workers looking to consolidate their place in the top three and the Sharks needing a win to stay in touch with the top five, it looms as a key game for both sides.
Elsewhere, Alstonville should win its home game against Bangalow, while Casino will be looking for its second win on home turf against Ballina, both from 5pm.