Yorkshire Rams @ Edinburgh Wolves
Pack your dragon glass because we’re heading north of the wall this week, having a quick visit with some Wolves who certainly haven’t been dire so far this season…
Who are they?
The Edinburgh Wolves must be feeling somewhat hard done by this season, after they rather clearly proved in 2015 that they’re too strong to be playing second tier ball any longer.
Through their ten wins leading up to a Division One North finals appearance the Wolves outscored their opponents 420-47. Frustratingly for the Wolves, the only team that apparently had their number last year were the Merseyside Nighthawks, who not only handed the Wolves their only regular season loss in 2015, but also convincingly outmatched the Wolves in the Northern final for the second straight year, stealing away Edinburgh’s place in the premiership.
Considering how the Nighthawks have gone on to shake things up in the Premiership North, currently sat undefeated at 5-0 in their rookie season in the top tier, there’s no shame for the Edinburgh boys losing out against a programme that’s on the rise.
Indeed, perhaps it’s because it was the second straight year that they’ve fallen at the final hurdle, but Wolves Head Coach Don Edmonston has led the Edinburgh side in picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and tearing apart the teams of the second tier once again! Sat at 6-0 (including two walkovers) the Wolves currently hold the #1 seed in the north, outscoring opponents 142-18 through four games.
The Wolves’ player retention over the years has been incredible (Coach Edmonston believes it might be his cologne), and with strong youth and junior programmes the Wolves have built themselves a sustainable system despite the stiff competition from rugby teams in the Scottish capital.
Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Rams had a far more tumultuous 2015. With mass departures due to retirements and transfers, the Rams entered the realigned Premiership North with only eight returning veterans and thus saw the Rams on the receiving end of many heavy losses – winning their season opener over the Sheffield Predators, but then failing to find fortune for nine straight games and earning themselves a kick down to the second tier. Unable to find paydirt in six of their ten match ups, it was clear the Rams offence lacked punch, and when the Yorkshire side stumbled in week five this year, run over 25-8 to the newly promoted Manchester Titans, many believed their offensive woes were rearing their ugly head once again.
However, showing some true Yorkshire grit, the Rams bounced back only two weeks later, Head Coach David Pawson’s team putting in a dominant performance on their home soil, racking up 32 points on a blindsided Titans team and keeping the Rams within touching distance of the Division Title.
With the Wolves having also turned over the Titans in convincing style, it’s likely that if the Rams want a division crown, a win this weekend is a must.
When last they met…
Umm… We’re stumped here I’m afraid.
As inconceivable as it may seem for two so long-tenured programmes, so far as we can tell, with the Wolves having only begun their rise up the tiers in recent years and the Rams having generally kept themselves afloat in either Premiership or first division balling, realignments and the ebb and flow of Britball have conspired such that these two teams have never actually met.
Know otherwise? Answers on a postcard!
What to watch out for:
- Under the guidance of former Edinburgh University Predators Head Coach Dan Cameron the Wolves’ offence has been formidable these past two years, averaging 38.9 ppg.
- QB James Morrison heads up the dangerous Wolves offence, and is capable of making plays both in the air and on the ground. He is supported by a strong corps of big-play wide receivers including Adam Ingram, Lloyd Dignan and Stu Galloway, allowing Morrison to put up a respectable 14/20 150yds and three TDs last weekend.
- Workhorse running back Steve Wilson provides pace and consistency in the ground game – taking 79% of the Wolves’ carries in week nine for a total of 129yds and two scores against the struggling Gateshead Senators.
- The Wolves defence is centred around a strong core of players promoted from Junior balling, including linebacker, Defensive Captain and self-confessed ‘massive nerd’, Ross Young.
- Entering his third year with the club Jon ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ Young provides the pressure up front, making the most of his impressive 6’6” frame, while second-year safety Jason Gray, who began his time with the Wolves with a pick in his first ever appearance, provides ball-hawking skills on the back end.
- Meanwhile it’s impossible to sleep on this rapidly maturing Rams offence. Offensive Coordinator Nathan Deeley, who must feel pleased to have more to work with than during his tenure as Head Coach of the Huddersfield University Hawks, looks to have finally got this offence clicking, pretty much matching the Wolves’ high-powered offence score for score against the Titans in the Rams’ last outing.
- Import QB Taylor Umland leads the offence, with former Head Coach Andrew Cheeseman fast becoming his favourite downfield target. The 6’5” primary school teacher has over a decade of experience in Britball and with the pair hooking up for a hat-trick of scores against Manchester this is a partnership the Wolves will need to try to disrupt.
- Multi-position playmaker and 2014 Team MVP Adam Cowley has found a home on the defensive line, asking big questions of opposing offenses with a dangerous combination of strength and pace. In his eighth year with the programme he combines with linebacker Charlie Gough to lead a young defence that’s only now beginning to find its groove.
What do they have to say about one another?
Don Edmonston – Head Coach, Edinburgh Wolves:
“The Rams are a physically big side who have athletes on offense and defence and have experience at a higher level which should stand them in good stead. However, we feel we have done a good job in our preparation of finding their weaknesses and we hope we can exploit them.
They have speed and look well coached so all we can do is stick to our plan, make quick adjustments and get the guys ready to play.”
“Edinburgh are heading into the game 6-0 and we are in 2nd place sitting at 5-1, on paper it should be a close game, but as we all know it’s played on the field.
Having been watching game film and watching them at last year’s final, they have a good team that is strong in all areas of the game.
The game itself has come at not the best time, falling on Father’s Day will ultimately result in a smaller squad traveling than we would like, and a couple of injuries to two of our MVPs from the last game which will keep them out of games till end of July doesn’t help – but that is the nature of the game.
We will play the game the only way we know, giving respect, and working to play our game and see where the dice fall at the end of it all. Hopefully spectators at the game will have an enjoyable afternoon with a decent football game.”
And what do we think?
The Rams looked to have been finding their form and this has the potential to be the Game of the Year in the NFC 1… However, if claims of injuries and a smaller travelling squad are true, this could be something of a disappointment for spectators if the Yorkshire team are unable to bring their A game.
In truth, it’s impressive that the Wolves are in as good shape as they appear to be, as scheduling has been harsh to the Scotsmen – week ten representing their fifth back-to-back game without a bye – it would be tough to believe the Wolves aren’t carrying a few walking wounded of their own?
However, between home field advantage and their more consistent form we’re giving Edinburgh the nod to hit 7-0 for the first time in club history and move one step closer to cracking open the IRN-BRU to celebrate winning the division crown.
Ask us again when these two meet up in week sixteen and this might be a different story entirely!
Edinburgh Wolves 24 – 14 Yorkshire Rams