Game of the Week: Highland Wildcats Vs East Kilbride Pirates
The Pirates were run close this week by their Scottish rivals, but ultimately held on to win 22-14, keeping alive their dreams of an undefeated season with just one game remaining on their schedule.
The Pirates were held to a relatively low scoring outing by a strong Wildcats defence, who forced the visitors to lean on their run game. After a scoreless first quarter form both sides, EKP’s strength and depth at the RB position allowed them to do just that, as Christian Rubuga and Matt Black both fought their way into the endzone. The Pirates strong running game continued, capped off by a run from QB Scott McKigen off the back of a play action to secure the win.
Highland held the Pirates close, but ultimately fell short of handing their rivals their first loss of the season. WR Sean McWilliams bagged both of the Wildcats’ touchdowns on the day to keep the home side within striking distance of the win, whilst the defence did well to limit a usually potent EKP air attack. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, this proved insufficient; just missing out with a narrow, one-score loss.
The Wildcats now sit at a deceptive 1-3, falling victim to perhaps the toughest schedule of the season. Irrespective of this, playoff football must now seem all but out of reach with just two games remaining in a disappointing season.
Tamworth Phoenix Vs Birmingham Lions
The Birmingham Lions climbed to 4-0 on the season after a surprisingly close win over the Tamworth Phoenix.
The Lions’ high scoring offense broke the 30-point barrier for the third game in a row, outscoring the Phoenix 32-26. With playmakers like Nathan Lester and Harry Bushell, the offense has carried the Lions on their unbeaten streak, averaging 38 points a game, and Sunday was no different as Birmingham held off the Phoenix in a shootout. Tamworth, who have struggled with numbers this season, put up their highest-scoring performance of the year, but missed out on claiming their first win. Despite the loss, the Phoenix will no doubt take great confidence from such a strong performance against an undefeated side.
Wembley Stallions Vs SE Legion
The Stallions picked up their first win of the season after shutting out the South East Legion to win 26-0.
It looked as though the football gods were dead set not to allow the Stallions a victory after their 36-point effort against Cobham was rewarded with just a tie. Wembley put this behind them, however, as they stormed ahead to a highly one-sided victory against the Legion. The Stallions controlled the game a raced ahead to a comfortable victory. With both teams now sitting at 1-3, postseason football seems unlikely, but both sides have made visible strides in their first season of 9-man football and may be much better positioned next year.
Thames Valley Tigers Vs London Blitz
By Otis Newbury
Saturday was business as usual for the undefeated London blitz who beat the Thames Valley tigers by a score of 42-6.
The Blitz started fast against the Tigers as they surged to a 36-0 lead at the half. A slow end to the game still resulted in a very one-sided victory. Leonardo Sophoclis scored twice despite only playing the first half due to injury and these would be the Blitz’ only receiving touchdowns. Their strong running game was on show yet again as they ran the ball in three times, each with a different back. The defense – as usual – were strong but after an error in their defensive formation they were scored on for the first time this year. While this was a slight disappointment, the London side can look back at this as an easy win to keep up their great form.
Despite the defeat the Tigers can take some positives from the loss, being the first team to score against the Blitz all year. Indeed many teams have struggled to get their offence going when facing the Blitz this year, and the Tigers’ late score in the 4th by running back Matt Bowers ended the game on a positive note which the side can look to build upon.
The Blitz ended their regular season on a high after yet another blowout victory. As they have a month to prepare for the playoffs, expect the side to return strong. If they retain the form they have had all season don’t be surprised if they go all the way for the third straight year. The Tigers, on the other hand, see themselves in a bit of a battle. While not totally out of the hunt, they need to finish strong and have a few results go their way if they want to play postseason football this year. Even if it’s not to be, they can certainly look back on the season positively as the side look to build the foundations of what some may believe can be a true contender in the south. For now though, the division belongs to the London Blitz.