In the early hours of Wednesday the Great Britain ladies team will take on two-time silver medallist Canada in their second match at the IFAF Women’s World Championships.
The ladies team had a fantastic debut against Finland last Saturday which saw them defeat the European champions 27-21. After previously losing to Finland 50-12 two years ago in the European Championships, this is a massive achievement for the GB team.
The game kicked off with Finland putting points on the board first from a 20 yard pass to Emmi Jarn after going for it on 4th down. After some great work by the GB defence forcing Finland to punt away, game MVP Ruth Matta ran it in for the first British TD tying things up at 7-7.
The second quarter started with a phenomenal drive from the Lions defence with two sacks in a row from DL Aimee Cottingham. An incomplete pass then left Finland 4th and 19 forcing them to punt away once more.
Neither offence were able to convert with teams trading punts after some stellar work by both defences, including a forced and recovered fumble by Lions DB Nancy Stone. With two minutes to go before the half, the GB defence held strong. DL Monica Lewinska broke through a double team for a sack leaving Finland 4th and 8. Finland decided to go for it but came up short.
The GB offence took to the field to have another swing at things and Oli Davies ran away with it getting the Lions the first down. With 15 seconds left on the clock QB Sydney Green launched a doozy to connect with Jessica Anderson for a TD putting the GB team in the lead at 13-7 to end the half.
The second half saw another great start from the GB defence with LB Lucy Kirk snatching the ball out of the air and running it in for a pick six. Matta delivered on the 2 point conversion putting the lions a tasty two TD’s ahead at 21-7.
Finland undeterred came back with a passing TD by Kristi Nirhano, but Lions QB Jo Kilby answered back with another TD after connecting with Anderson leaving the score at 27-14. Steadfast Finland came back with another passing TD from Jarn, closing the gap at 27-21.
The GB offence were unable to convert and decided to punt away on 4th and 2 which put Finland back on the field late into the 4th quarter at their own 12 yard line. A strip-sack by DL Vicci Rollinson which was recovered by Bo Steward on first down would have pretty much ended the game for Finland but the refs made a questionable ruling that the Quarterback’s arm was coming forwards, and declared an incomplete pass.
Finland’s QB Jonna Hakkarainen was remarkable in moving the offence down the field with an exquisite deep ball caught by Sanni Seppala that put Finland 1st and goal on the 5 yard line with 22 seconds left in the game. She was fortunately stopped short of a TD by DB Sophie Etheridge.
Finland handed the ball to Jenni Lindén but she was tripped up by Cottingham through the middle for no gain. The clock still running gave Finland one more chance to tie the game. The last play, snapped with just a single tick left on the clock, was a second hand off to Lindén and an attempt to run up the middle where she was met with a pile of defenders to make the stop and save the game for the GB team.
After a nail-biter of a win the Great Britain team will advance to play hosts Canada, whilst Finland will face the competition favourite, Team USA. Canada are an experienced team having competed at every world championship to date. Notably they defeated Finland 34-12 back in 2013 to advance to the finals.
Canada’s first match saw them play fellow newbie’s to the World scene, Australia, from which they secured a 31-6 victory. Canada’s points coming from a field goal, two rushing touchdowns from their stable of able running backs, one passing touchdown and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Virgine Roussel. They also completed every extra point conversion and their special teams were on point – returners Samantha Matheson and Cassey Brick each placing the Canadians in great field position to start their drives following massive kick returns.
Canada are a very well rounded team and rotate players often which keeps them energetic. They are particularly solid in their run game but after the performance from the GB defence this could make for some hard-hitting football. Canada also have the advantage of playing on home turf and will no doubt have a crowd behind them for the game.
Results from Game Day One:
|Great Britain||27 – 21||Finland|
|USA||29 – 0||Mexico|
|Canada||31 – 6||Australia|
Game Day Two schedule:
If the Great Britain team lose to Canada, based on how other games go they will most likely end up in the battle for bronze against the winner of the Mexico vs Australia game (because, let’s be honest, Finland probably aren’t going to beat the USA…)
If GB take home the W against Canada they will end up in the final, most likely against Team USA. Either way, the Lions are in with a chance for a medal which is extraordinary considering this is their first time at the world championships!
Good luck to all those involved. Live stream will be available from host team Canada on Wednesday 28th June 3:30am BST!