U19 | London Blitz @ Birmingham Lions Southern Semi-Final Preview

By Thomas Henley

The London Blitz versus the Birmingham Lions, a game worthy of a Britbowl itself, in fact it already has been.
Birmingham have only been in existence for four years, and have yet to win a National Championship, however, in four years of competition, they have only been on the wrong side of the score sheet three times, never losing a regular season game. All of their post season defeats have been to that year’s national champion (twice to the Blitz themselves!).

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Photography (c) Whizzyfingers Photography – see more at facebook.com/Whizzyfingers

For many Lions players, it’s their last chance to get their hands on the title before losing eligibility. Quarterback and arguably the best player in the junior game, Rohan Sandhu is one of those players. Sandhu has been dominant this season, with his mobility burning defences, if a defence has managed to contain him, he’s sliced them apart with his arm.

The London Blitz know his skill all too well, with Sandhu scoring the go-ahead score as time expired during the regular season fixture. The young gunslinger’s favourite target, James Stanley, has also dominated in the south, with spectacular physical grabs becoming a usual occurrence. The stacked offence is completed with a set of powerful running backs, with Stirling safety Emmanuel Bawa using his sheer size and pace to bully those in the junior leagues. Bawa is partnered by University of Birmingham’s Alex Bell, yet another physical player in Coach Cross’ young Lions.

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Photography (c) Whizzyfingers Photography – see more at facebook.com/Whizzyfingers

Coach Jason Henry’s men will be looking for revenge, after losing to the Lions on home turf during the regular season by two points, 20-18. The Blitz have seem to found their championship calibre once more, after a drop off last year, with both the offence and defence stepping up.

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The Blitz offence have had a monster season, in 4 of 6 games, they racked up wins by 30 points or more. The defence have followed suit, conceding one score or less in four of their matchups. The only cause for concern for the Blitz will be the narrow loss the Lions as well as a closely fought game against the Solent Seahawks.

Photography (C) Jody Demay-Davies
Photography (C) Jody Demay-Davies

The Blitz have improved as a team this year, however, one man can not be ignored, running back, Aaron Mahoney-Jones. The 15 TD phenom will come into this game wanting to make a statement, he may be going to university in Birmingham and with the university coaches on the sideline, Mahoney-Jones will want to force his way into the front of their minds before pre-season starts.

In playoff football, every down is a possible game changer, there is no opportunity for mistakes with both teams being of such a high calibre. With a place at Britbowl at stake, and such incredible offensive talent, expect an exciting high scoring match-up.

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Nick

Nick ‘Willy Tee’ Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he’s spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general ‘BUAFL wafflage’. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1