#Sapphire17 | Division Two North & West Tournament Three Review

The sun was shining for the teams in Teeside this weekend, as the Steelers hosted the third round of Sapphire North & West Division Two.

Peterborough switched with Cardiff this week and joined Chester, Sandwell, Staffordshire and Teeside in the North & West Division due to BAFA trying to make the travelling more manageable for each team.

The two first matches ended up being replays of round two, Chester against Sandwell, and Teeside against Staffordshire.

Like in round two, Chester and Sandwell would be the one to watch, Chester would have wanted to gain another win from this fixture, but Sandwell wanted revenge from last time, they wanted that win.

Unfortunately, Sandwell were down a couple of defensive players due to injuries or not being able to make it to Teeside. Their RB and QB stepped up to the positions of corner and safety for both games. With both player playing both sides of the ball, it was going to be a tough game for Sandwell.

However both teams pushing themselves to the limit could only pay off for one team, and it ended up being Sandwell. Their QB who had never played safety ended being a weapon on defence. She got a pick, cleaned up the deep passes and was making tackles. Plus their RB got MVP, Sandwell described her as their own ironman playing defence and offence but also getting the two TDs and an extra point, showing how strong she can be on the ground and through the air.

Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff - see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers
Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff – see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers

After letting in one Chester TD and two point conversion, they completely shut Chester’s O down which is something teams have found difficult through Sapphire this year due to their little pocket rocket.

Sandwell were overall the stronger team, recovering fumbles and even forcing them. Chester did have a TD taken back due to holding. The Chester coaches stormed the field a couple of times as well due to what they thought were bad calls by the refs, but unfortunately for them, what the ref rules stands.

Sandwell Steelers 13-8 Chester Romans

 

It seemed all four teams who were starting the day really wanted to push themselves as Teeside and Staffordshire took to pitch one and this game definitely wasn’t a walkover for Teeside like what everyone possibly thought it would be.

Since meeting a couple of weeks ago, Staffordshire had obviously done a lot of work and were pushing on O and D, making a lot of positive yards and TD saving tackles. They even got extremely close on two occasions to getting TDs! If it wasn’t thanks to Siobhan Henry stopping Surge RB’s on the one yard line and then down at the five, it could have been a completely different ball game.

Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff - see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers
Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff – see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers

Teeside once again showing why they are still the top team in this conference, running in TD’s, gaining TD’s through the air. Just showing an all-round solid performance. Plus it was great to see Laura Hegarty back out on the field for Teeside this week after being stretchered off in round one.

Teesside Steelers 39-0 Staffordshire Surge

 

The lone standing game this round was Chester against Peterborough.

With none of the teams seeing Peterborough in action before, the only thing that people have had to go off is any footage they’ve manage to pick up from their flag games.

Peterborough came out the blocks very aggressive knowing that Chester are an aggressive team, however they couldn’t hold them off for long.

Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff - see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers
Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff – see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers

Chester showed their experience against the new team putting in good plays and really pushing Peterborough in their first North & West experience putting an impressive 42 unanswered points on the score sheet!

However Peterborough shouldn’t come away from the game disheartened by the final score as they did themselves proud and kept playing their own game till the end.

Chester Romans 42-0 Peterborough Royals

 

It was time for the battle of the Steelers.

When these two teams faced each other in round one, it was and still is the closest game we have seen all series, with both teams D’s proving that they could be the best in the conference and only one score in the final minute giving the game to Teeside.

Unfortunately for Sandwell, it was a completely different story today.

Sandwell had literally given everything to get the win against Chester that they physically didn’t have anything left. LB Libby Davoren had given that much that she even broke her foot but didn’t realise till after the Teeside game which now means unfortunately she’s out for the final two games and Sandwell will be without another crucial defensive player.

Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff - see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers
Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff – see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers

They were exhausted and it showed, there were a lot of mishaps on offence, the QB turning the wrong way for the RB, off snaps, dropped snaps. Things just couldn’t go right this game. It was a similar story for their D though. They didn’t play as physically as everyone knows they can so there were missed tackles and a lack of discipline.

Teeside reacted to this though and jumped on the opportunity with two TD’s and a safety. The second half was a lot better by Sandwell but it was too late by that point and mistakes were still being made.

Teeside have proved that they are all round athletes through-out this whole series and they weren’t letting that slide today. They didn’t let in a single point the whole day.

Teesside Steelers 14-0 Sandwell Steelers

 

The final game of the day came right down to the wire.

It was Staffordshire’s turn to face the South & West’s Peterborough and Surge were out to try and get their first win.

The two teams went back and forth all game. Surge getting the first score, then Peterborough answering right back. Both teams working so hard to stop the other. It all came down to who could block better for their running back, neither team really using the air at all.

After a hard fought battle under the sun and some incredible runs from both teams, it all came down to the final play of the game.

Peterborough needed a TD and the two point conversion to tie the game, they were in the no run zone so had to pass it.

Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff - see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers
Photography (c) Jules Ratcliff – see more at facebook.com/pg/TeessideSteelers (n.b. Eds: Tash didn’t add a photo of herself looking ferocious, we did.)

Surge were lined up ready, everyone tense, the ball was snapped the QB went for the throw and corner Amber Norbury from Surge picks the ball, takes it 5 yards down the field where she’s stopped. Surge were back on O and kneel to win the game.

It was a very intense game for both teams and an absolute nail biter in the final minute, but it was very well played by both teams with an impressive 11 TD’s scored overall!

Special shout out goes to the Peterborough Head Coach, Coach Benita for stepping up and not only coaching her team but playing as well!

Staffordshire Surge 38-30 Peterborough Royals

 

With the final looming and Teeside now at 6 and 0, I think we’ve found our conference champions!

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