MEC North Game-day Review – Darlington


Leeds Samurai 12 vs 37 Newcastle Blackhawks

The score suggests this game was a 1 sided affair but this was not the case! Leeds came out quickly, with a big completion over the top of the usually stingy Newcastle defence for a first down. This set up a passing score to #87.

The Samurai had the better start with 2 INTs and 2 TDs but seemed to fade shortly as the Blackhawks responded quickly with two touchdowns to centre Andy Davies in what was a career day for the second-year player. The frustrated Leeds side were able to move the ball well in the first half, but came up short of the end zone.

In the second half, the Blackhawks were able to extend their lead before giving WR Mantas Ceckauskas some reps at QB. A rough start in his first competitive snaps resulted in an interception for Leeds that they converted into a late passing score to Jonny Dudley.  Some key drops and turnovers from the Samurai aided the Blackhawks’ adjusting defence which they turned into offensive drives that Leeds could not contain. A pass from the Samurai which wasn’t caught but deflected for an interception late in the second half killed off any potential of a fight back.

Game ball goes to Ewan Miller of the Blackhawks, who threw for 5 TDs and caught a TD from teammate Mike Dunn in a well-rounded performance.

Leeds Samurai 38 v 26 Darlington Steam

Leeds controlled this game from the offset, moving the ball well offensively through two early receiving touchdowns from Jonny Dudley who is quickly proving himself to be one of quarterback Kyle Taylor’s favourite receivers.  however three drops in the endzone prevented this score from being more convincing.

The Steam responded with passing touchdowns to Joe Bolton and Jonny Reardon. However, Leeds never looked like giving up their early lead and managed to close out the game with an impressive 6 passing touchdowns, including three to centre Chris Farren.

The Samurai made adjustments in their defence to fill the gap left by absent players which kept the Steam at bay, although they showed yet again that they are getting the heads round the league by making some good gains as per score line. James Riggall from Darlington had a fine display, throwing for 4 TDs. Game ball goes to James Haikney of the Samurai, who put in an excellent shift on the defensive side of the ball.

Credit: James Brewerton

Leeds Samurai 6 v 44 Calderdale Knights

Leeds were caught cold in a surprising loss to the Knights, who looked to have turned their season around in dramatic fashion. While Leeds got away with some mistakes in the Steam fixture, they were unable to in this game. Poor tackling and catching cost the Samurai, as the Knights romped to 44-6 victory behind Oli Burbridge‘s 4 total TDs; 3 on offence, and 1 on defence.

Game ball goes to the ever dangerous Craig Henry, who was a constant threat for the Knights.

Calderdale Knights 0 v 48 Newcastle Blackhawks

The Knights had a considerable comedown In a comprehensive display from the Newcastle Blackhawks, Calderdale, despite moving the ball well, were not able to score. While Calderdale’s quick passes and runs caused troubles in the first fixture, Newcastle’s tackling was much improved. A productive passing game from Ewan Miller saw the Blackhawks score 7 touchdowns through the air.

While the Blackhawks offence was excellent, it was the blitzing of Phil Watson that caused all kinds of issues for the Knights. He notched 4 sacks in an awesome display, and earns our game-ball.

Credit: James Brewerton

Darlington Steam 13 v 32 Newcastle Blackhawks

In the local derby, Darlington showed improvement again under quarterback James Riggall. Trailing early, the Steam were at the receiving end of some poor tackling from the Newcastle Blackhawks for a full pitch running score from Ben McQueeney. The Steam were able to score again making use of a short field on a blown coverage. The score at the half was 25-13 to the Blackhawks, including a passing score from Mike Dunn.

The second half was a less exciting affair, with Phil Watson causing headaches for the Steam with his blitzing and the Blackhawks struggling to find the endzone despite moving down the field. With two offensive scores in the game, Andy Davies of the Blackhawks earns our game-ball.

The Blackhawks set up a much anticipated showdown against the Giants for the #1 seed from the MEC, as both teams come in undefeated!

Credit: James Brewerton

Darlington Steam 13 v 33 Calderdale Knights

The Knights capped off their excellent day with another fine win over a division foe. The team again relied heavily on Oli Burbridge, who scored 2 TDs and added 3 XPs. The Steam did well to stay in this game, as they again remained safe on offence, giving the Knights few opportunities to turn the ball over. They couldn’t keep up with the pace of the Knights offence however, as the Calderdale side pulled themselves back into contention. Oli wins our game-ball in this contest.

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