Barring any unexpected rescheduling, this past weekend saw the final slate of regular season games of 2018! Hearts were broken, and others soared, as the postseason positions were finally solidified!
Week Fifteen Review
By Alex McLachlan
Hertfordshire Cheetahs vs London Warriors
By Jordan Fearon-Lee
In the weekend’s most hotly anticipated matchup, the Hertfordshire Cheetahs secured the no. 2 seed with a 28-10 over the London Warriors.
Both teams managed to put up points on the board despite the Cheetahs missing 20 players to injury or holidays, and the Warriors having under 16 players.
The Cheetahs got off to a hot start with their opening drive leading to a touchdown from stand-in QB Ollie Mulcahy to WR Ben Wilson. This was followed up with an aggressive decision to attempt a 2 point which ultimately succeeded.
The Warriors offence struggled with the absence of GB QB Matthew John and were unable to point any points up in the first half. Herts’ rookie safeties Aaron Connell and Dylan Baylis showed promise in their first official starts, not allowing anything to go over the top and this make-shift Defence from the Herts contained the Warriors pass game.
These defensive stands from the Cheetahs allowed their Offence to capitalise with another two scores before the end of the half. Touchdowns came from a long run after catch effort from WR Josh Miller-Hall and RB Jack Stodel carrying the other in.
Although the Cheetahs entered the half with a 22-0 lead, injuries began to rack up on the offence. These injuries prevented the Cheetahs offence from replicating their first half success. However, it didn’t stop them scoring once more, after a long run from Stodel resulted in his second touchdown of the day.
The Warriors rallied together to get back in the game and used a muffed punt that led to a safety to spark this. They then drove all the way down to the Cheetahs 5-yard line before Herts LB Jack Channer put an end to drive with a sack fumble. The Warriors came back, but yet again they were shut down by the Herts Defence, this time rookie Dylan Baylis coming away with an interception. It was third time lucky for the Warriors, as after yet another drive they finally managed to score from a deep passing TD, caught by GB WR Issa Aluko which narrowed the score to 28-10.
However, it was too little, too late for the Warriors as rookie Kiran Jolly came in at RB to finish the game before the Cheetahs kneeled the ball to cement their spot as the second seed in the playoffs.
Herts HC Alex Halms described the game as, “Good result, but we did limp over the line…” Coach Halms also noted standout performances by linemen Byron Kealy, Jack Channer, Aaron Connell and Josh Miller-Hall.
Commiserations for the Warriors, as the loss eliminates them from the playoffs and a chance to have an all-London conference game. The loss gives them a 3-3 record to finish the year. GB U17 Center Dennis Lutchoomun told us that his Warriors “Tried our hardest” and “If we had our guys who were missing, we would have won the game.” Meanwhile, for the Cheetahs, all focus will now go their rematch vs the Blitz for the crown of the conference.
East Kilbride Pirates V Chester Romans
By Bruin White
The Romans travelled to a neutral venue on Sunday to contest with the East Kilbride Pirates in an eventful game that saw EKP sneak away with a 28-20 win.
East Kilbride got first blood after a fake punt set them up for a rushing score. A Roman reply came immediately after with Sam White, still from the Quarterback position, running for a 10-yard touchdown. Not allowing an even score to settle, the Pirates replied with a cloud of dust for six and a 2pt conversion. The favour was, again, returned by a Liam Coxon rushing touchdown to conclude the back-and-forth first half with the scoreboard reading 14-12 to East Kilbride.
The Pirates opened up the scoring in the third quarter, along with another 2pt conversion. After some time and a goal-line stand, Chester’s defence ramped it up with a hit from Aled Burt causing a fumble and a subsequent fumble recovery. This would in turn set up Liam Coxon for another rushing score, aided by his offensive line. Roman Tight End Alex Baldry hauled in a 2-pointer to bring the score to 22-20 late in the game.
The scoring stalled as possessions changed throughout the fourth, although the East Kilbride backfield found a way to break a long one to give them a 28-20 lead inside the two-minute warning. A comeback drive for Chester was on, spearheaded by breakthrough Quarterback Sam White who used his feet to march the Romans up the field. However, the storybook ending was not to be in this game as Quarterback White threw an interception on third down, effectively ending the game.
Despite the Pirates now finishing 5-1 with a playoff berth and a chance for a rematch with the Titans, there is an air of dissatisfaction. HC Matthew Davies shared
“If we [East Kilbride] play like we have these last three games when the playoffs arrive we can kiss our chance of being successful goodbye”.
The team has scraped two narrow victories over the Wildcats and Romans as well as having suffered a convincing defeat at the hands of the Titans in their tail end of the season, and it would seem that there is a lot of work to be done.
“Everyone… knows we are capable of better but we have to start showing it”, Davies continues. “The guys know it wasn’t one to be proud of”.
Contrastingly, a Chester locker room will have been lined with a humble excitement post-fixture, having performed above expectations this year – at least on the field if not on paper. Having come short on nail-biters with the league’s best in the Titans and the Pirates, the Romans could be in a very different position had a few things gone their way. Nevertheless, they’ve established a great foundation at the Junior level and have a lot to look forward to in the future. HC Will Sargeant recognises that the team have “lots to build on”, although is proud of their competitiveness at both Youth and Junior academy levels.
That game ends the Romans’ season just a whisker away from an opportunity to compete in the Northern Trophy Final, yet leads EKP into the playoffs. The Pirates will face the Titans in Manchester, Sunday August 12th.