It’s been a long season. But finally the end is near.
Tomorrow (Saturday September 26) the Birmingham Lions, Woodham Warriors, Sheffield Predators and London Rebels will gather for BritBowl. The road to Doncaster has been littered with the broken dreams of the 36 other teams that didn’t make it, sometimes in heartbreaking circumstances.
So – with the big show nearly underway – it’s as good a time as any to look at the 10 games that best define the 2015 season. They’re not necessarily the best ones. We’ll let you argue that amongst yourselves.
If you’ve got an itch to watch the final, it’ll be streamed live on Pulling the Flag from 2pm here.
Headline image by Bec Edwards Photography. Article by John Hill of Pulling the Flag. Check them out here.
1) Birmingham Lions 21 Reading Lions 6 (NuOla Spring Break – 31/3)
Reading had missed out on the playoffs at the death last year, but they looked hungry in this pre-season encounter. It was about to get a whole lot better for them in 2015.
Unfortunately, they came up against a “rookie” flag team with a difference. BUAFL national championship winner Tristan Varney had assembled a cast of talented Lions for an assault on the flag world, including running back Dan Conroy, defensive back Greg Freeman and wide receivers Drew Newiss and Will Hussey. As their flag experience grew, so did the nightmares for opposing teams…
2) Victoria Park Panthers 26 London Rebels 14 (18/4)
The 2013 flag champions made a surprising early exit from last year’s playoffs, and many were looking to see how they’d react. It didn’t start well for the Rebels.
Already missing GB flag QB Calvin Tarlton, the Londoners lost several players to injury, and dropped early games against all of the playoff challengers in their division. Ouch. Although they dropped to fourth in the SEC South right at the end, the Panthers were so very close to being shock qualifiers, driven by results like this one.
3) Aberdeen Oilcats 6 Glasgow Hornets 40 (3/5)
Glasgow were another team who’d missed out on the playoffs by a whisker in 2014. But they’d added new bodies – including quarterback Alan Young – and toyed with Aberdeen in their first encounter of the season. A strong start by the Hornets gave last year’s BritBowl third-place team a hefty kick in the pelvis, and it just got a bit out of hand from there. Glasgow wouldn’t lose a regular season game for the rest of the year – until the Oilcats got revenge in the reverse fixture.
4) Chichester Sharks 0 London Rebels 48 (10/5)
The Rebels are riding a nine-game winning streak into BritBowl. But this is the game that hollered to the rest of the league that they were back with a vengeance. The Rebels eviscerated the experienced Sharks before they knew what hit ‘em, and ended a funk that had threatened to put them out of the playoff running. Despite losing three of their first four, the Rebels would later narrowly defeat the Panthers 13-7 and progress with a 9-4 record.
5) Woodham 20 Sheffield 14 (31/5)
The Warriors and Predators game in the 2014 Northern Playoffs was brutal. Warriors QB Elliott Holt was ejected and the backup went down with an injury, leaving David Saul and the rest of the Preds to cruise to a 40-19 win.
The Warriors considered retiring from the league, but returned and blasted through the MEC North division on the way to an undefeated season. The most important game came in mid-season, when they edged past the Predators in a re-match which handed Sheffield their only loss of the season so far. Will these two heated rivals meet one more time at BritBowl?