Saturday, at the New River Stadium in Wood Green, North London, the British national champion London Warriors played their first game in the inaugural Northern European Football League against six-times Danish champions, the Copenhagen Towers.
Things didn’t get off to a good start for the Warriors as after an exchange of possessions Towers’ Kasper Skyum finds an open Lasse Tor in the end zone for the score. The two-point conversion was no good.
After an Interception by Søren Bendixen Copenhagen opened up some good holes for the run however the Warriors forced a fumble only to have the play called back for a penalty.
Copenhagen ended the quarter with a punt only to see the Warriors fumble on their first play!
London went down another score when they punted from midfield but the kick was blocked and then recovered and taken to the end zone for a score. The two point conversion was good.
Sensing they had the whip hand Copenhagen attempted an onside kick but were too keen to get there and were pulled back by a penalty.
The game looked like it may be slipping away from the Warriors, however, they found an open receiver in the end zone to pull back within one score as they converted the extra point. The half ended with the Towers leading 14-7.
Half-time entertainment was provided by a women’s exhibition game between the Warrior Ladies and their cross-town rival Wembley Stallions. Both teams showed that the women were no less aggressive or skilful than their male counterparts but it was the Warriors that came away with a convincing win.
The half opened up badly again for the Warriors when they were forced to punt. Their special teams made amends for the earlier mistake when they caused Copenhagen to fumble which they recovered. It wasn’t to last though as an interception by Magnus Bitch on the deep pass gives the ball back to the Towers.
Warriors were starting to take no prisoners and were putting together a good drive including converting on a 4th and 1. The drive ended well when the Warriors ran the ball in from the 1 yard line. PAT was good to equalise at 14-14.
Warrior’s indiscipline began to take its toll as penalties helped the Towers mount a sustained drive culminating in another touchdown with Lasse Tor once again the recipient of the pass from Kasper Skyum. The score remained 20-14 as the 3rd quarter ended.
Special Teams once again were the stars in the 3rd quarter when an errant snap left the Tower’s punter scrambling around in the end zone with two Warriors bearing down on him. The London team thought that they had scored a touchdown when they recovered the ball, however, excellent officiating correctly called the play a safety as the loose ball had touched the end line (as can be seen from the following picture.
The tide was now turning for the Warriors and trailing 20-16 they ran the resulting safety kick off back to the Tower’s 29 yard line. Following a deep pass the Warriors punched it in from the 4 yard line (shown in the following video).
PAT was good and the Warriors lead for the first time in the game. The Towers then put together an excellent drive combined with more Warriors indiscipline and drove the ball down to the Warrior’s 7.
The Tower’s pass was batted and picked off by the Warriors and following a quick decision by the back he handed the ball off and the Warrior’s ran it all the way down the field for the pick 6. You can see that play below (please excuse the camera work, the autofocus decided it wanted to wander off at the start of the play).
Warriors penalties almost cost them the lead they’d fought so hard to obtain when a pass interference penalty and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties allow Copenhagen to move the ball to the Warriors 7 yard line. Where they scored with another passing TD, this time thrown to Victor Staun Jensen (see video below)
Now inside the final two minutes, the Tower’s attempted onside kick was again unsuccessful and the Warriors drive into the Tower’s half with the aid of a facemask penalty and are able then to kneel out the game.
A great win to start the Warrior’s campaign in the Northern European Football League, however, they will have to get on top of their discipline issues if they hope to progress further in the tournament.