The SWC resumed their in-division rivalries with some big fixtures this past game-day! Here’s the 5 things we learned from all the action!
Cardiff v Aylesbury = Instant Classic
Both teams looked like absolute juggernauts throughout the day on Saturday. We expected this of Cardiff , but Aylesbury have been up and down this season. They showed their class, and whilst a close game with the Phantoms opened the day, they showed enough to close out the game to win by one score. What followed next would be an absolute shellacking of their closest division rivals, the Northants Titans Blue. Jeff Bond was distributing the ball like a man possessed and the Titans defence had no answer to stopping the Aylesbury O. The Defence were ferocious with constant blitz pressure and incredible coverage to slow the Titans offence down. The Spartans looked good heading into their showdown with the Hurricanes.
Aylesbury started like a rocket with a 45 yard score down the left sideline to take the lead on the first play of the game. They would not let up and would find themselves 20-6 up at the half. A back and forth bout would ensue but the Hurricanes would not be fazed with “Joe Cool” handily finding his top receivers to get back into the game. The Hurricanes would spin the scoreline in their favour 34-26 which would leave the Aylesbury Vale Spartans a few cracks at the whip to try and tie the game but an interception from Jeff Bond whilst trying to go deep sealed an unfortunate second half for the Spartans. With a win they would have all but secured their spot in Britbowl this season. They’re Britbowl bound unless they slip up against the relegation battling Birmingham Lions & Coventry Cougars. We fancy them to seal the deal this coming game-day.
The Titans held their own fate in their hands but they slipped up when they needed it most. They started the day with a spirited display against the Hurricanes where they showed that they are capable of starting games quicker than what we’ve seen this season. They lost the contest, which was entirely expected, but they followed up with a dead performance against the Spartans. This has ultimately destroyed their hopes of making Britbowl this season, unless the Spartans slip up or the Titans outscore the Spartans on the final day by 150+ points – both of which are extremely unlikely. The Titans need a strong performance in their final game-day, and have favourable opposition, however it seems like they’re destined for the Plate.
The bright spark in the day came against their cross town rivals, the Northants Phantoms where they put on an impressive display with Jordan Melay grabbing the game-ball. He snagged seemingly countless receptions to go with 2 TDs & 3 XPs.
Ties Are Like Kissing Your Sister But Losses Are Like Kissing Your Grandma
The Cougars & Lions faced off in what would likely be the decider on who would be automatically relegated to Division 1 for the 2019 season. Unfortunately, 40 minutes of flag football could not separate these two sides on Saturday as they were tied 18-18 at full time. It’ll come down to the last game-day of the season where both teams will be hoping for one more win to help secure their place in the SWC Prem next season.
The Lions came stacked with Drew Newiss, Stefan Rowden, Paul Zinkus and Sammy Lee Baker, who stepped in under centre in Rohan’s absence. Even with that additional firepower, they couldn’t muster up a win on the day. A controversial result against the Northants Phantoms will have the Lions feeling hard done by, but like we’ve said a number of times, don’t leave it in the hands of the referees and finish the game off in the previous 39 minutes.
The Cougars ended up with a bare bones squad as usual with Ben Eaton on 1.5 kneecaps after his gruesome injury in the previous game-week. Ryan Steel stepped in under centre to provide some much needed help for the Cougars, who might just have saved their survival with the tie. They struggled once again against a strong Hurricanes side but put in a solid performance on both sides of the ball to secure the aforementioned draw which sees them lead the head to head on the Lions heading into the final 3 games of the season.
Phantoms Hit & Miss
The Phantoms started the season by beating the Spartans in Cardiff, which put them in a good position to finish above their division rivals. However Aylesbury have shown they have learnt from their losses this season and worked on what is needed to beat the team in front of them. The Phantoms fell at the first hurdle in Thame by losing a close one to the Spartans 27-20. Then came the always entertaining game against the Birmingham Lions. The Phantoms were the first team to get some sort of result against the Lions when they drew a few years ago when the Lions were rampaging through the league, and since then they just know how to play the former champs. This game would not be without its controversy. At the end of the game, the Lions sideline were outraged that they weren’t given a Pass Interference Call on 4th Down to put them in position for the go-ahead score, but it was ultimately poor tackling that was the Lions’ downfall as Stuart Tarry made mincemeat of the Lions Defence on his way to 2 long scores. The Phantoms defence stood firm when they needed to with the returning Dani Waples playing a pivotal role in stopping the Lions offence. Finally, the Phantoms would fall to the Titans in the Northants Derby which seemingly resigns the Phantoms to a 4th place finish in their first season in the Prem, dependant on what happens in Northampton at the end of July.
Air Conditioned Indoor Facilities are the future
Now I don’t want to seem like we are moaning about the weather but enough is enough, the people who are in charge of the weather need to look at the flag schedule and adjust the weather to suit our needs (18-19 degrees with a cool breeze would be delightful). If the weather people won’t listen then England needs to invest in a few indoor air conditioned facilities so we can play the sport we love without obtaining horrific sunburn and dehydration.
The Scots and Welsh in particular aren’t quite used to this strange form of torture, however we can all agree that this weather is great for the post-game BBQs!