East Kilbride Pirates vs Northumberland Vikings
By George Buksmann
The East Kilbride Pirates host the Northumberland Vikings with the chance to secure the NFC 1 North title this weekend.
Pirates on verge of undefeated season
East Kilbride have had a formidable season to date, a vast difference to this time 12 months ago which saw them struggling at the bottom of the Premiership North.
“We like to think that the results have been an outcome of the effort we’ve put into practice and off-field activity,” said head coach Jamie McLaughlin, “So given we measure ourselves on that effort, we hope that the outcomes continue being the same – we continue winning!”
Since their last feature in Game of the Week the Pirates have romped to four considerable victories, including two 50-burgers and have shown no signs of slowing down.
The last meeting of these teams back in June was the closest contest yet for the Pirates coming away with the narrowest of wins 8-5.
“We were fortunate to have a good team victory,” McLaughlin said, “Benefiting a lot from our defensive play as our quarterback went down in the first quarter. We had some amazing efforts from Andrew Meechan and Angus Mackintosh stepping in at short notice for emergency duties, but we definitely feel like our performance there was not indicative of what we’re capable of.”
The Pirates offence has been explosive and the key to their success this season, having scored 150 points more than the next nearest team in the conference. While their defence has also been tough, they have conceded a handful of scores – which should set up an entertaining game.
“Our game plan for Northumberland will need more of the same if we’re to come away from the game at 10-0,” McLaughlin said.
Vikings to snatch the crown at the close?
Northumberland have been equally as impressive this season and have it all to play for going into this fixture. The narrow margin of defeat last time around means that a win here by a couple of touchdowns would put the tiebreakers in their favour and would put them in the driving seat going into their final fixture.
The Vikings have been backed by a near-impenetrable defence this season, conceding just 31 points all year, including two shut outs in their last two victories.
“If you’ve watched any of the UKAFL live streams or seen us in person you’ll know that our defence has been our strength this season,” said Head Coach Kevin O’Reagan, “They’ve only given up three touchdowns all year.
“We are approaching this game in the same way we approach every game. I don’t believe anything different is needed in terms of game plan or personnel, we held EKP to one touchdown and gifted them a safety.
“Our discipline, both on the side-line and the field, on the day was not what I expect from a Vikings team and it contributed to our downfall. We had a perfectly good touchdown ruled out of bounds and missed three field goals, so I think it’s fair to say on the day we beat ourselves.”
The Vikings defence will not only keep them in the game but give them an opportunity to win. East Kilbride’s offence that has blown teams away all year stalled significantly last time around, something the Viking’s will hope for a repeat of – they just need to find a way through the Pirates’ defence.
“We set out to win the division this year and gain promotion to the Prem and these are the games we relish. Our general mood is that if we execute our game plan and keep our discipline, we will win this game.
“We have a phenomenal amount of talent on all three sides of the ball and these guys deserve to be playing at the highest level, but they know that in order to get there they need to beat the best in Division One, like EKP.”
“I can’t wait to face off against them again this weekend,” O’Reagan said, “And who knows… we may see them again a third time in the playoffs?”
The Viking’s defence is going to be at the forefront of this fixture and will have the biggest say in the outcome. They have been consistent all year long and largely kept EKP in check during their first clash.
The Pirates will need to find the right gear to get their offence moving that has been so clinical during the season, but their defence could allow a way in for Northumberland.
EKP will be eager to wrap up a 10-0 season and confirm their conference title, but with so much riding on this there will be an almighty chip on the Viking’s shoulders, and we’ve seen stranger outcomes in Britball. This week I’m going for an upset with the Viking’s getting the win.