#BNAs2017 | Game of the Year 2017

Leeds Bobcats 54-46 Gateshead Senators (Adult)

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via Facebook.com/leedsbobcatsafc

It takes something pretty special to put a Division Two game on a prestigious list like this… and that’s precisely what these two NFC 2 Central teams provided!

Typically the only way to see 100 points in a game of Britball is if one team’s steamrolling the other, and the mercy clock’s put pay to most of those… but to see two teams jousting all the way to the century? That’s a helluva crowd pleaser!

Even more so, considering the circumstances coming into the fixture – let’s set the scene a little:

Two teams, undefeated and largely unchallenged through their seasons so far. Both sat at 9-0, and through an anomaly of the scheduling, due to their seven team conference, yet to face one another. It’s each team’s final fixture of the season, and the conference title will be decided in one fell swoop, as the top two offences in Division Two square off!

With the Bobcats averaging 47.75ppg, and the Senators 49.13ppg, all expectations were for a shoot out, and it didn’t disappoint!

Within moments, each side had put up a score, the effective ground attack of both sides proving tough to shut down. However, into the second quarter and the Leeds D appeared to solidify – keeping the Senators impressive offence in check to allow their own offence to go two scores ahead – the Bobcats entering the half with a 24-8 advantage, and questions were being asked whether the Gateshead offence was all it was cracked up to be?

Asked… and answered. The second half was the shoot out that everyone had expected, and hoped for, as the Senators responded with 22 points through quarter three, pulling within a two points of the Bobcats part way through the third… But for every blow, the the Bobcats punched back with a score of their own, to run out eventual winners in the most prolific scoreline the 2017 Adult season!

Tamworth Phoenix 34-28 London Blitz (Adult)

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When the Phoenix drove the field on their opening drive, to the electric noise of their mass of supporters, and punched in a score right from the get go? It was apparent to all those both attending the game, and watching the stream, that we were in for something special.

Even following the Phoenix’s shock victory over the Warriors in the semis, expectations were this was the Blitz’s game to lose… But with Tamworth drawing first blood courtesy of a darting Patrick Daley carry, right from the outset it was clear this final was going to be a feisty one.

We’d talk you through it, the incredible back and forth of the day, the momentum changing plays… But thanks to the incredible stream produced by Onside Productions, why read, when you can watch?

Even with no stake in the the outcome, watching it back months later? Goosebumps.

Sandwell Steelers 42-37 Leicester Falcons (Adult)

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Next up, a crucial game from early on in the 2017 Adult season, that saw two preseason favourites for promotion go head to head in a back and forth bash.

Going into the game, Sandwell were 2-0 having put up 103 points and conceded 0. Leicester had put a beat down on Coventry, but were still waiting to answer questions as to whether or not they could live up to their 2016 season in Division Two where they had simply steamrolled all those placed before them on theri way to promotion.

The Falcons appeared to give a succinct and clear answer as to whether they were ‘Div 1 Ready’! Thanks to the seemingly unstoppable running of Taylor Brown, the Falcons jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter – a shell-shocked Sandwell defence unable to close down the Falcons ground game, and the offence unable to stay on the field. The teams traded scores in the second, but Sandwell couldn’t seem to match the pace the Falcons were setting.

Coming out of the half two scores down, the Steelers needed some good fortune and got it when the Falcons botched a punt, leading to a Steelers TD, but the Falcons managed another two scores in the third, putting them up 35-20 going into the final quarter.

A quick drive sees the Steelers grab a TD to move within one, but on the subsequent drive their offence finds themselves on their own 2 yard line on fourth down. Without much space to get the kick away, and their defence finally finding their rhythm, the Steelers opt to take an intentional safety, banking on their D to get the ball back.

Now down by ten with minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Steelers force a Falcons 3-and-out and make the most of it, scoring to put the game within two points. On a scramble, Steelers QB Callum Davidson is injured, forcing the Sandwell sides third string playcaller out to finish the drive, with the Steelers knocking on the door. A rushing TD within three plays gives the Steelers the lead for the first time with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Leicester need to air it out. QB Troy Lee throws a screen to Taylor Brown, who then lobs it deep downfield, only to see the pass broken up. With time left for one play, the Falcons snap the ball. Lee throws a screen to Brown. Brown throws back to Lee. Lee throws deep as time expires… The pass is broken up. Despite holding the lead for just 28 seconds all day, the Steelers emerged victorious!

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While the Falcons would have their revenge later on in the season, on their way to an MFC 1 crown, it was a game that really set the tone for a hotly contested midlands conference in 2017!

East Kilbride Pirates 40-46 London Blitz

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via Facebook.com/piratesfootball

You could not have asked for a better aperatif to #Britbowl31, in this Under 19s final that came right down to the wire.

Two teams, utterly stacked with talent, and with offences that appeared able to score at will – and yet with entirely different styles!

For the Blitz it was the unquenchable fire of their ground attack, led by Aaron Mahoney-Jones, who posted up nearly 350 yards of offence on his own! While in response, the EKP aerial attack took flight right from the outset, Quarterback Sam Montgomery throwing for over 330yds and 6TDs!

The lead traded back and forth in this one, and EKP had the opportunity to steal ahead once more in the closing seconds… but why let us tell you about it, when you can go watch the highlights for yourself?

And incredible fixture, that says great things about the future of the game in this country!

 

University of Nottingham 27-28 Leeds Beckett Carnegie (BUCS)

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We covered this one in our ‘Underdog Victory of the Year’ Award, but thought it was more than worthy of another mention – if only for the manner in which it was decided in an overtime showdown!

Undefeated favourites for promotion, the University of Nottingham had cruised their way through the regular season. Boasting a huge roster, including British and American scholarship players, Nottingham had spent much of their season repping their depth once they built up healthy 30 point leads.

Reaching the Northern semi-finals, they faced a Leeds Carnegie side that hadn’t even managed to make it out of their own conference unscathed – falling twice in the regular season, and struggling for numbers, hitting the postseason with only 26 active ballers on the roster… But what ballers.

Both teams started the game with power running Football. Nottingham leaning on Sports Scholar Jacob Amadi to move them up and down the field with ease in the first half. Carnegie were able to move the ball on the ground as well, and took a lot of time off the clock.

The two sides traded scores, Nottingham holding a 20-12 lead the half, before the Leeds D solidified in the second half, holding Notts scoreless for a full half of football for the first time all year long, while picking up a score and conversion of their own to push the game to overtime!

Notts possessed first, and with an impressive drive they cracked through the Carnegie D, scoring and kicking the PAT to give them a 7 Point lead.

With the newer overtime rules, Carnegie would have one chance to score back, else bow out with heads held high for their valient effort, taking the preseason promotion faves to overtime.

Carnegie drive for a first, but stutter on their second set of downs… At 4th and 6, it looks like it’s over, only for a flag to be seen lying on the ground where a Notts player had lined up in the neutral zone. They don’t miss out on the second opportunity at 4th and 1, and a rush from Spencer Hind sets Leeds up at the five.

Chris Winrow punched in the score behind the big Beckett O-line, and then Head Coach Dale Bottomley, with his team on the sideline let the players make the final decision… 1 pt or 2?

With a balls to the wall effort, Carnegie punched in the 2PAT, Winrow bouncing off tackle to the right before crossing the plane – needless to say, the sparsely populated Carnegie the sideline went wild!

 

And the winner is…

Spoiler

Tamworth Phoenix 34-28 London Blitz (Adult)

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This was a close run race, and credit where it’s due – the Under 19s Final came very close to pipping this one, which would’ve been an impressive achievement considering the community’s predisposition to focus upon the Adult game.

But no, the most watched Britball game in the modern era was a very worthy winner. Blood, sweat, tears, back and forth drama, an amazing crowd and an amazing day…

Britbowl XXXII has a lot to live up to!

 

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Nick

Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1