Gameweek 2 in the HNC gave us some clarity over who is likely to advance in the Championship Bracket, and also broke daylight between the bottom two clubs!
Hornets Offence is For Real
After their comfortable victory over the Grangemouth Broncos during the first week of games, the Hornets had the chance to stamp their authority on the season with a statement victory over the Oilcats in Aberdeen. The Oilcats simply couldn’t live with the Hornets offence, as Glasgow’s scoring unit was stopped twice all game – with one of those drives being a conservative clock-burning mission. The Oilcats had to chop and change their defensive players on a number of occasions in order to counter the threats that the Hornets receivers pose, but these efforts were in vain as the Hornets put up 39 points on one of the top units in the nation. That’s 71 points total the Hornets have put up on the Broncos and Oilcats. A less familiar foe awaits them in Sheffield though…
The Hornets defence still didn’t look right without Cameron Shaw, with a number of blown coverages leading to Oilcats scores, but after going 2 scores up, the Hornets looked comfortable for the duration of the game. The defence did get the final big play with an interception from Nicky Farrell to ice the game, but they’ll need to improve if they want to make a genuine bid for the title.
Aberdeen lose their cool in the heat
The Oilcats had a pretty straightforward gameplan coming into their clash with the Hornets – give the ball to Gary Elliot. A lot. The towering receiver scored nearly all of Aberdeen’s points against the Hornets and gave them a real chance, but they couldn’t quite get over their own mistakes. The Oilcats frequently gave the Hornets new downs and good field position due to overly-physical play which was flagged by the referees. Their missed tackles were also punished, as well as their inconsistent lineup on defence, as Hornets QB Alan Young targeted the fresh defender on a number of occasions to catch them cold. With the mistakes accumulating, the Oilcats’ frustration was evident, as they repeatedly made errors which handed the Hornets opportunities to punish them
Their final offensive play somewhat summed up their effort in this one, as a miscommunication between QB Scott McDonald, who has assumed the starting role, and Gary Elliot led to a pass sailing into the waiting hands of the Hornets defender in the middle of the field, as Gary broke to the outside.
Injury threatens to derail Broncos season
In the co-main event of the day, before the Hornets defeated the Oilcats, the Aberdeen side picked up a massive win over the Grangemouth Broncos in order to take a commanding step towards the championship bracket. The 20-14 win for Aberdeen was a much tighter defensive battle than the following contest, but the result was far more positive. For the Broncos, it was a lost opportunity to gain ground before they lose Kevin Woods later in the season. We speculated that their small squad could give them problems if they suffer injury, but they had a catastrophic loss as HNC QBOTY Scott McKenzie went down with an apparent serious knee injury midway through the game. The Broncos struggled to put points on the board, and there was also concern for safety and receiver Liam Fleming as he too pulled up lame; however he was able to return to the contest.
At 2-2, the Broncos need a minor miracle to save their season, otherwise they seemed destined for the plate. Their away-day in Newcastle will tell us a lot about the resiliency of this team, and how far they’ve come from last season’s disappointing climax to their season.
The Outlaws have a pulse
The Edinburgh side had a rough week one, as they struggled to pick up even a first down against the Broncos and Oilcats. They had a much more intriguing gameweek 2 with the Hornets, coming off a disappointing King Bowl performance, and an old fashioned ding dong battle with the Clyde Comets on the horizon. They managed to get some points on the board, as they scored 19 against the Hornets. A big reason for their improvement was the re-introduction of Jamie Archibald to the starting lineup. Jamie had a telling impact, limiting the Hornets high scoring offence for the most part, including breaking on a huge pick to give his team an easy score.
The Outlaws won 14-13 against the Comets, giving their season a lifeline as they head south on their next game day. QB Liam Clutterbuck did a good job limiting mistakes against the Comets defence, and gave his team a good chance to win the game. David Hogg provided a safe pair of hands at centre as the Outlaws put some breathing space between them and the bottom of the league.
Where are the Comets Players?
The Comets had a magnificent 2017, picking up a playoff berth, and win, in their very first season. The ever-dangerous Bud McFerren gives the Comets home-run ability every time he touches the ball, but he can’t do it all alone. A big reason for the Comets upturn was their addition of Bulls legend David Pasnik from the Glasgow Hornets, who found himself fill a much bigger role on offence and defence. He was a difference-maker on both sides of the ball, and had good chemistry with QB Martin McLintock. The team the Comets play today are almost unrecognisable from their campaign last year. Sure, Steven Mercer and Chris Lang are both developing into two of the better players in the Comets’ ranks, but they’ll struggle to stay afloat if they don’t get an injection of quality soon.