Cobham Cougars V Thames Valley Tigers
By Bruin White
Thames Valley travelled to Cobham on Sunday for the third game of the franchise’s rookie season. Following a blowout defeat visiting the Solent Seahawks a few weeks ago, the Tigers will have been looking to start putting some points on the board – but this was not to be, with the Cougars delivering a 66-0 pounding.
Cobham again suffered from having to send some players ‘both ways’, although never hesitated this time around when it came to putting points on the board. The first score came from an 80-yard run delivered by last year’s U17 Britbowl MVP Khaled Alayyan, who went on to score twice more in the game. GB receiver Louis Hall also picked up 3 touchdowns playing two positions, totalling over 100 all-purpose yards. With starting Quarterback Aidan Stammers still absent from play following their skirmish with the Warriors, Carlo Gabriel filled in, and indeed excelled – throwing for multiple scores of his own, combining to put up an astounding number of points.
Despite a potentially pulverising 66-0 defeat, the Tigers still showed glimpses of quality, with two interceptions by the D, as well as an impressive outing from Lewis Marstin who made plays on offensive, defensive and special teams.
The greatest point of merit the Thames Valley Tigers have exhibited thus far is their relentless energy and readily evident passion for the game. Whilst many teams may have folded following three pointless games where player numbers were down to barebones, or at least have dropped to the 7-man game before the season had started, the Tigers continue to demonstrate their grit. Players never leave the field for the duration of the game in the summer weather, playing tough, ‘ironman football’. To keep going emphasises the players’ resilience to the rest of the league, and it has gained the highest respect of their peers and opponents throughout Britball.
What this period in the team’s history is doing, if nothing else, is forming a solid foundation and a great core of players from which they can expand and reinforce in the coming years – to where we can see a successful franchise on the horizon.
The Thames Valley Tigers’ first year resumes in two weeks, when they host the London Warriors. Cobham, on the other hand, will look to start a winning streak this weekend when they host the National Champion London Blitz in a game bound to be cosmically different from their last.
Merseyside Nighthawks V Highland Wildcats
By Bruin White
The Highland Wildcats will be happy to have finally started their season, winning their first game 28-8 over the Merseyside Nighthawks at a neutral venue.
The wildcard Nighthawks team played honourably on the day, despite the loss – HC Rich Merrick claiming they had played their “best football so far”. The score only 14-8 at the half, with Merseyside’s Jacob “JD” Diaba receiving a touchdown pass for the Nighthawk’s first and last score of the game against a reputable Highland defence.
Even though they had caused 5 turnovers on defence, the Nighthawks still fell victim of Highland’s on-field capability and lost the game 28-8, dropping to a tough 1-2 on the season. The Wildcats played the game well: putting four scores on the Merseyside defence who had held the Romans to naught the game previous, whilst holding the same offence to have put up three against the acclaimed Titans’ defence to just a single score, re-establishing their dominance over teams south of the border.
The Nighthawks will continue their intriguing season next week when they face the Nottingham Caesars. At the same time, Highland will host the East Kilbride Pirates in the first Scottish rivalry contest of 2018.
Solent Seahawks vs London Warriors
By Jack Stodel
Sunday saw an epic scene, when Solent ‘thrashed’ the London Warriors [Editors Note: We at Double Coverage do not condone this level of punnage]. Solent knew that this game would be a different challenge to their previous against the Thames Valley Tigers, and took their home field advantage to defeat the Warriors by a score of 36-14, and leave them with a negative record heading into their 4th game of the season.
On the opening return of the game, the Warriors showed efficient special teams, returning the ball all the way inside Solent’s 30 yard line. Led by GB QB Matthew John, the Warriors pushed the ball inside the ten before being stripped on a QB sneak play by S Sam Gee who then took the ball and was wrestled down at the oppositions 35 yard line.
Solent’s offence looked shaky to start off with and were nearly picked off by FS Lewis Kirby before having to punt, pinning the Warriors deep in their own territory.
— Solent Seahawks (@SolentSeahawks) June 3, 2018
With a quick 4 and out on the Warrior’s offensive run, Solent’s offence began to capitalise on their good field position and after two plays, “5’11” QB Bruin White found WR Jack Pears in the endzone for the first score of the day. An XP from James Green then pushed the score to 7-0.
A poorly fielded kickoff saw the Warriors once again pinned deep inside their own half, and the Seahawks’ terrifying defence including GB CB Kieron Johnson limited John’s effectiveness to surge downfield before LB trio James Green and GB LB’s Toby Naylor and Rowan Milner converged to force a safety.
WR Tom Moore returned the kick deep into the Warriors’ territory and on the next play, White found Moore for another score.
— Solent Seahawks (@SolentSeahawks) June 3, 2018
GB QB Louis Benzey shone as he scored on a QB sneak before throwing a 17 yard TD pass to QB WR Ben Thomas to make the score 29-0.
A long kick-off set the Warriors up on the Solent 38 yard line and QB John found WR Lewis Kirby for a score just before the half.
After a dull 3rd quarter, the Warriors took advantage of the hot conditions in the 4th when they returned a long fumble recovery and John hit GB WR Issai Aluko for the 2 point conversion.
GB RB Dom DeMonte finished up the scoring with an 18 yard run for the TD before an XP made the final score 36-14.
Although it was great to get the win, Solent and HC Marc White still feels as if they “left 3 or 4 scores out on the field and [also] allowed a couple of big plays” (their TD pass and fumble recovery) for scores. The Warriors showed flashes of excellence against a tough Seahawks side but have still got room for improvement before their final games of the season.
Division Two Northern Tournament
In the North, the Chorley Buccaneers hosted the inaugural Div Two tournament, against the Leeds Academy Assassins and Black Country Vipers. With all three teams fielding 9-a-side teams last year, there was bound to be competitiveness and talent in abundance, despite the ‘Division Two’ moniker. The Vipers eventually came out with two victories, whilst the Assassins defeated the Buccaneers to salvage some points from the day.
The Vipers continued with the great promise they showed in preseason to dominate their competition. Coming out 27-6 victors against Leeds and 25-15 winners against the Buccs, Black Country showed off their attacking prowess in style. Of particular note were Running Backs Cy Roche and Reuben Eddy, both of whom accrued in excess of 100 Yards each and multiple TDs on the day.
In the remaining game, the Assassins and the Buccaneers faced off, with the Assassins coming out eventual 20-0 victors on the day. This result shows obvious positive merits for Leeds’ defence, completely shutting down their opposition. However, each side clearly has areas to work on, with discipline providing a huge stumbling block in their first tournament.
After a first taste of football in 2018, the Northern teams are bound to be excited to try their hand again and show improvement in their next set of fixtures on the 16th!
Division Two Southern Tournament
By Jack Stodel
Sunday saw a tournament hosted by the Kent Exiles take place between their u19 side as well as those of the Ipswich Cardinals and the Wembley Stallions.
The Exiles looked prolific on an offence led by GB RB Bolaji Adewale, scoring a total of 70 points and conceding only 22 points on a defence that looked strong all day and helped set up the offence for their scoring spree.
The Wembley Stallions struggled against a tough Kent side where their patchy defence failed to contain the hosts and let past 50 points. They did however put up 14 points against Kent’s fiery defensive unit, which created a slight distraction from the heavily one-sided scoreline. The Stallions prevailed against the Cardinals however, who seemed to have a weaker second game as they lost 28-8 to the Stallions.
Ipswich did however put up more of a fight than Wembley against the overall victors, allowing them only 20 points which sparked questions on the longevity and heart of their defence against the Stallions, or perhaps they saw them as an unworthy threat. Ipswich’s offence appeared to struggle in both games, where they were limited to 8 points in each.
With no GB talent on either the Cardinals’ or the Stallions’ roster, they were surely hoping that hard work and a strong team ethic would pay off against the talented Exiles’ roster that included a number of experienced players – having previously played either U17 ball or through the Exiles’ first highly successful Sapphire Series . However, they both visiting teams fell to the strengths of Kent and will look to improve in order to move forward.