Saturday we saw the last fixtures of the season, with Edinburgh hosting the Division One North. These teams were battling it out to see whom the top two teams would be to make it into the post season. A rare sighting of what could only be described as a sun in the sky made for a perfect day of football!
First up was East Kilbride against the Manchester Titans! The Titan’s offence started with the ball and came out strong, with a touchdown from running back Sian Kersse. This trend continued throughout the game with Kersse and Karis Smith scoring two a piece, and Titan’s U17 graduate Rebecca Bingle with three touchdowns! EKP moved the ball well down field, only to be stopped short by a strong Titan’s defense, led by linebacker Charlie Novak. Late in the first half, QB Aynsley Barclay ran in a touchdown for EKP, leaving them with momentum going into the second half.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, the experience of the ‘Big Blue Wrecking Crew” shone through in the second half and with the addition of Sian Perry (who was playing for the first time since knee surgery) Canadian QB Sarah Ul-Haq connected with the QB-turned-receiver, for a touchdown. The Pirates put up a good fight on both sides of the ball, but with the likes of U17 Captain Ellie Partington with seven tackles, including two sacks, it was a hard fought battle for the Scottish outfit!
On the other side of the pitch, the Edinburgh Wolves took on the northern powerhouse, Leeds Chargers. After their loss in Round One against the Chargers, Edinburgh were keen for revenge. The Wolves were at home, had the support of the crowd and with some of Leeds’ key players out with injury; the game was for either side to win.
Leeds started with the ball on the less than ideal surface, and a stray pass was tipped by safety Lynsey Llewellyn, which she managed to secure and rocketed it back down field for a touchdown! Leeds were fired up and with the robust offense marching down the field in the wedge formation, they ran it in for a touchdown. Edinburgh back on the pitch and wide receiver Amy Wright, juked her way down the field for a 15 yard gain for a first down. Strong runs by Lynch and McDougall bought them ground, but safety Naomi Harryman was having none of it. The Chargers offence took to the field again and struggled to contain defenders Moody, Haroer, and Hendricks, leading the Wolves to earn a series of sacks and tackles, concluding a well-earned safety. In the second half, Leeds stepped up another gear with touchdowns from wide receiver Steph Warren and running back CJ Harrison, who made her debut Sapphire 17 appearance.
Next up, the intense clash of the Titans versus the Wolves, who were both fighting to finish up in the top two of the North Division. The Titan’s carried momentum from their first win, but Edinburgh were playing with the fire from their previous loss! Both defenses dominated throughout, so a low scoring game was decided on fine margins and goal line tackles!
Neither side were able to threaten much in the first half, but an interception from Titan’s linebacker Louise Moran, stopped Edinburgh 10 years from their endzone. Edinburgh responded with a fumble recovery by Ashleigh Bell on Manchester’s 7-yard line, but failed to score. The second half saw the Titans gain some momentum and eventually Sian Kersse ran through three tackles to bully her way home from halfway to give the Titans the lead, the 2PAT attempt from Bingle was stopped with inches to spare.
The Wolves were able to draw level on their penultimate drive and it took a thunderous tackle from Roz Break to drive the PAT attempt backwards and keep the scores level. Numerous turnovers were on the cards again as both teams came up short, most notably a play which left the Manchester QB tracking deep into her backfield. After receiving pressure from cornerbacks Mckillop and Hughes the Manchester QB was left with no where to go and was hit by D Lineman Rachael Moody for a huge loss. Things stayed at 6-6 and the whistle was blown to end the game. A win in the earlier game for Manchester against EKP (86-6) meant they would finish 2nd in the league with Leeds already securing 1st place and beating EKP 45-0 in their second game.
The most notable game of the day, if not the entire Sapphire Series, was Leeds Chargers versus the resilient East Kilbride Pirates. The Pirates were down to 9 players, who played both sides of the ball, at multiple positions. Lead by Aimee Wilson, who played OL, DL, LB, and DB for the game, this team was the real life version of Braveheart. The Chargers started off strong with rookie running back Ambreen Asraf marching the offense down the field. Offensive linewoman Laura Dye, took on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level blocks, leading the way for Sunshine Santos Haw and CJ Harrison. Key touchdown saving tackles on defense from Amy Oliver kept the score line closer. The score did not reflect the effort of the East Kilbride Pirates. This team finished the game with smiles on their faces, never gave up, reminded the entire football community what it means to have heart and why we love this sport so much, so thank you!