The second round of the Sapphire Series kicked off last weekend, with the Chester Romans hosting North & West Division Two at Cheshire County Sports Club.
The first game between the Chester Romans and the Sandwell Steelers did not live up to expectation… Sandwell had looked strong in the opening tourney, but seemed to stumble in this fixture. Chester dominated coming away with a 30-6 (or possibly 24-6) victory. Sandwell started off promising, immediately putting points on the board with a running TD, but Chester answered right back and continued to do so for the rest of the game. Sandwell’s offence made some positive yards but struggled to convert the drives into points. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ previously resilient-looking defense seemed to come undone against a physical Chester team. The Romans demonstrated a strong run and pass game. In particular, #81 Natalie Kelly ran circles around Sandwell. Chester now sit comfortably at second in the conference.
Over on pitch two saw the Teesside Steelers take on the young Cardiff Valkyries, entering their second tournament. Cardiff’s rookies showed lots of potential against a veteran team. The Valkyries first score was an exceptional concentration catch by #88 Ruth after the ball was tipped and juggled by a few players in the end zone. The second, another great effort by Ruth outrunning Teesside on a well-executed pass play. However, ultimately Teesside are stating their case as the team to beat in the conference, and the Steelers offence simply looked unstoppable, drive after drive, walking away with a 44-12 win.
Teesside then faced the Staffordshire Surge for round two. The Steelers put on another impressive performance and ended the game 40-0. This puts Teesside at the top of the conference, being the only undefeated team across the entire tier! Teesside play fast football and a special mention goes out to Siobhan Henry, who proved to be an absolute menace to anyone she came up against.
The final round saw the Chester Romans take home another win, beating Cardiff 42-6. The Valkyries came into the fixture having unfortunately lost their defense anchor, Zoe John, to a concussion from the first match. As a result Cardiff implemented an entirely new defense structure just before the game, but their efforts fell short against the arsenal of offensive weapons in the Roman team.
For the final game Sandwell, sore from their first ever loss to Chester, took on the Surge. Staffordshire worked up the field with some misdirection plays and managed to score on a run up the outside. However, Sandwell’s D soon found its groove and shut this down, with their own offence making big plays during the early exchanges. The Steelers game away with a 20-6 win after a great game of football which saw a second half dominated by defensive play from both teams.
Each team in the conference has now played each other and has some idea what to expect.
Of note: The next round sees Cardiff trade places with the Peterborough Royals in an attempt to reduce travel for each team. These brand new teams will have a challenge on their hands next round competing against unknown opponents!
- Chester 30* – 6 Sandwell
- Teesside 44 – 12 Cardiff
- Staffordshire 0 – 40 Teesside
- Cardiff 6 – 42 Chester
- Sandwell 20 – 6 Staffordshire
(or maybe 24?)