8-0 in the regular season. Third best in points differential across Division One. Four regular-season shutout wins. Lowest points allowed across Division One
The Portsmouth Destroyers have had a stellar season so far. Like a bulldozer through a chain-link fence, they’ve driven right into the playoffs this season and show no signs of stopping.
Of course, their season wasn’t as clean-a-sweep as their record might make it appear – narrowly winning by a single point in Week Two against the Surrey Stingers and by only 6 in Week Nince against the Reading Knights. In fact, Portsmouth won four of their eight-game regular-season schedule by a single score or less.
Facing off against a strong 7-1 Cardiff Cobras this weekend who won five of their regular season games by 20 points or more, questions have to be asked as to whether the Destroyer’s offence has the firepower for this fixture..
Speaking with Head Coach Phillips at Portsmouth we had the chance to ask a few questions before this weekend’s game:-
What would you say your key to success is, and what have you done differently to other teams that have led to your 8-0 regular season?
“Things for us have always been the same, find a way to get your best players the ball, to put the best defence you can out there. We have the same mentality now as a programme as we did in 2011 when we won the national championship. I think that we have been able to get our whole programme behind the idea that this is our journey and we will prepare each week to play an opponent each week who may or may not be a well drilled and well prepped team but in many respects that is not relevant. We play our game the way that we know we can and see what happens. We have approached this season in the exact same way we did last year we as a programme speak about our own individual attitude and effort as those are the only two things that are in our control.”
Are there any standout players or coaches and why have they stood out?
“We have been lucky as we have a fantastic group of players both sides of the ball: A solid group of offensive linemen who have been with us for a couple of years now two excellent running backs, Ben Meyers and Efe Collins Eguavoen and QB Mike Thomas who is a dual threat in our eyes. Lesli Qwesi comes up as playmaking WR for us, very consistent and had big game last week against surrey defensively: Darrell Mountain (DL) is a disruptive pass rusher and had 7/8 sacks last week, Eddie Koppoe and Henry Blake (LB). Jordan Wetherill (S) and Jason Seloremy (S – GB)… But to be honest the whole defense is solid, less than 4.8 points a game I think so I’m happy with whoever is on the field. Offensively we need to turn up a little bit more, but that is consistency.”
Cardiff went 7-1 this regular season, is there anything you are looking out for specifically from them?
“From tape they look like they have an ability to get pressure on the defence which will be something that we will be looking out for and they have a nice passing attack and are happy to sit back and throw the ball. They look a solid team who can score points so we will have a good game in faront of us”
Cardiff’s season was impressive. With an overall record of 7-1, four games won by 20 or more points and only one close loss in their rematch with the UWE Bullets one Cardiff’s crown and postseason credentials were already secured. The Cobras had a strong performance through their eight games followed up by two comfortable wins in the Division One Quarter and Semi Finals.
The Cobras hope to charm their opponents this weekend and take down the undefeated Destroyers to take themselves to the Division One National Finals, and join long-time South Wales rivals, Swansea, in the top tier.
We interviewed Cardiff’s Head Coach, Sean Cook, about the upcoming game:-
What lead to your success this season?
“Our success is probably down to the tried and tested formula of a good run game and defense, and being able to get some big pass plays to keep the opposition honest. We get plenty of contact time with the players as coaches, so we can really get the guys football IQ up and get them plenty of scrimmage reps.”
Are there any standout players or coaches in the team?
“We’ve got a lot of first year coaches this year (including myself), having graduated last year after four years of playing for Cardiff, and Pete Jones (OL coach and offensive assistant) and Gareth Humphreys (Assistant HC and OC) have been a massive help for me this year. On offense, RBs Carwyn Chamberlain and rookie Ross Ludlow have been outstanding, as well as WR Scott Higgins. On the line, Ben Mason at LT is having a huge season, contributing to a great run game. On defense, linebacker Tom Earl has been racking up tackles for loss and sacks, as well as Robin Ford with crucial game winning interceptions. Rookie Joe Dickerson at OLB/DE has been a force in the second half of the season, too.”
Is there anything in particular you need to do when facing a team like Portsmouth?
“It’s always hard going against an undefeated team, and I know Portsmouth are strong on both sides of the ball, especially defense, so we need to make sure we keep moving the chains if we want to win the game.”
Both teams are ready to go for this weekend’s match-up in Portsmouth, but who do #TeamDC’s BUCS department see balling in the Premiership South next season?