Editors note – we’re adjusting the titling of the U19 articles to synchronise with the adult/overall National Leagues calendar to minimise confusion re: when fixtures are taking place.
i.e. though it’s the sixth week of U19 fixtures, it’s Week Eight in the BAFANL calendar, and we’ll be using the latter format from here out.
Under 19’s Recap, Week Eight
By Alex McLachlan
In a week that was short on games, their quality shone through. Two teams cemented their elite status, whilst the third game demonstrated a shifting of power in the North!
East Kilbride Pirates vs Highland Wildcats
In the first of two battles for Scotland, the East Kilbride Pirates rallied after a slow start to overcome the Highland Wildcats by a score of 42-14.
The game started off with the Wildcats taking advantage of an uncharacteristically lethargic Pirates team. Pirates HC Davies believes that nerves were to blame, with the rivalry’s weight getting to some of the EKP players early on. Regardless, Highland capitalised on this with a strong running game behind a line consisting of All-DC lineman Ally Gibson, alongside Colin Hamilton and Fergus McIntyre, with a touchdown apiece scored by Rory Grant and Kyle Holleyoake.
However, the two-minute warning in the first half appeared to serve as a wakeup call for the Pirates side, who turned up their intensity and put up 16 points before the break. From then on, the Pirates did not look back. Young QB Sam Montgomerie took the game by the scruff of the neck, and showed some exceptional talent to put up some ridiculous statistics, with five passing touchdowns (two to Fraser McDonald and a further three to Struan Bailey), taking his total on the season to eight in just two games!
The Pirates are bound to take great heart from this victory, moving to 2-0 and having defeated arguably their two most challenging opponents. The Wildcats, meanwhile, will be disappointed, but encouraged by the roles their rookies took in such a challenging game. They will undoubtedly be looking to force a much closer game the next time these two sides meet, in five weeks time!
Nottingham Caesars vs Merseyside Nighthawks
The Merseyside Nighthawks got back to winning ways this week, traveling to Nottingham to face a Caesars side who were hoping to start off their season strong. Despite sputtering to start, Merseyside came out as eventual 28-14 victors in a tightly fought contest.
The game started significantly in the home side’s favour, with elite athlete Alex Stocks, who has moved from WR to QB in the offseason, scrambling for a pair of scores. Backing him up were rookie Daniel Kumi and safety-come-running back Morgan Dodson, who provided enough threat to freeze the defence and ensure that Stocks had room to run.
However, once this initial shock was absorbed by the Nighthawks, the team from Liverpool tightened up and were able to shut down the Caesars O. With the threat nullified, the Nighthawks started to go on the offensive, turning up the pressure on the Caesars defence. A pair of LJMU Fury players aided them immensely in this, with Jacob ‘JD’ Diaba and Jensen Fairhurst rushing for a touchdown apiece, with the former averaging an incredible 11 yards per carry.
Despite the Caesars boasting a pair of talented corners, and the aforementioned Dodson enforcing the back end, the Nighthawks were able to find success through the air, as well as on the ground. This was thanks to Rib Welti, who scored a rushing and receiving TD, and caused the Caesars secondary fits all game long.
With this result the Nighthawks move to a respectable 2-1, already improving on last season’s 1-4-1 record. The Caesars, meanwhile, have already proved unable to repeat last season’s undefeated record. They will have to turn things around quickly, hoping that their rookies have taken on this experience and will be able to improve against the Lions on Saturday.