The regular season is now in the books and we were treated to some enticing match ups which would decide who would be seeded where going into the Playoffs in October. We caught up with Stanley Flashman to recap his three best games of the week and recap on how the league is looking heading into the Finals Day!
Northants Titans Oceanus 39 vs 27 Coventry Cougars Ladies
At the bottom of the Bandit Flag Conference, we had an interesting match up to see who would creep into the Stanley Flashman Plate Playoffs. Both the Cougars Ladies and Titans Oceanus found themselves with one win apiece, the only thing separating them would be the draw that Cougars Ladies achieved earlier in the season against the Bandits.
Titans Oceanus found themselves in a difficult position only having 5 players for the game day, including QB debutant Adam Ribano, who had been drafted in earlier in the day having played no games prior at the position. The game began evenly with both Q’s hitting their mark on short plays to march up the field only to be shut down near the end zone.
Titans Oceanus finally broke the deadlock when Jake Cooper caught a high pass at the back of the end zone for the TD. Lauren Deane added the XP. Jake Cooper would continue to frustrate the Cougars defence with another 3 TDs in the game.
The Cougars would begin a late surge when realising their slick run plays were becoming more and more effective with impressive scores from Grace Conway (3 in total), but a late nail in the coffin from Cody Hinton of the Titans would see them close out the game, 39-27.
Ribano’s successful outing would see him throw 6 TD’s & 3 XP’s but it would be Jake Cooper who would pick up the game ball for his 4 TD performance and Grace Conway would grab the game ball for her hat trick for the Cougars
Coventry Panthers Black 35 vs 19 Warrington Revolution
Both teams headed into this Bandit Flag Conference match up needing a W in order to secure a 4th place seeding and qualification into the Outlaw Bowl playoffs.
Panthers Black QB James Nelms started the game in a calm fashion, moving the ball down the field with a combination of passes and hand offs before finding Tom Reid in the end zone for opening the score. Nelms then successfully added to his extra point conversion record following game week 2 and found centre Aaron Flower from 5 yards out.
The Warrington Revolution offence then took the field looking for an immediate response, but couldn’t penetrate a well drilled Panthers defence with blitzer and OFL sack leader Sean Keaveney not giving Revolution QB Danny Meir any time to find his receivers.
The Panthers offence scored on both of their next two drives with a touchdown pass to Aaron Flower and QB keeper from Nelms, with extra points converted by Tom Reid and James Whorlow. The Panthers defence remained strong with Revolution pass attempts broken up or stopped for short gains by Tom Wale and Pat Lane, followed by a big interception by Tyler Shiel to give the Panthers a 21-0 lead at half time.
The Revolution weren’t going to go down without a fight and started the second half at a ferocious pace with a touchdown pass from Danny Meir to Darryl Thomas. The Panthers responded with a score of their own with James Nelms finding Flower in the end zone for his second score.
Revolution receiver Jake Shaw was able to haul in 2 passes from Meir in the middle of the field and showed great athleticism to take them to the house for the scores. With the clock running down, Nelms found James Whorlow in the end zone to put the cherry on top of a 35-19 victory.
Game balls in this one were awarded to Shaw for his two impressive touchdown grabs and Panthers defensive back Pat Lane who amassed 10 tackles in the contest, along with a vital 4th down pass break up.
Panthers progress to the OFL playoffs in a challenging match up with the EFC champions Northants Titans Atlas, whilst the Revolution secured top seed in the Stanley Flashman Plate and will take the positives from the performances in their debut OFL season into a playoff game vs the Rugby Racoons.
Northants Phantoms 20 vs 19 Cynon Valley Celts
This contest started out with both defences taking centre stage, stopping their opposition from scoring on their opening drives. The Phantoms perhaps looked the more dangerous in the early proceedings, but a number of dropped passes lead to the Celts being gifted possession.
On the Celts 2nd drive, Dale Davies started by nearly getting sacked for a safety by the persistent Phantoms blitzer. Dale then led a flawless drive which resulted in a score by Elis Nash.
The Phantoms quickly came back into the game when their QB Jez Smith also led a fine drive down the field, scoring from short range through Luke Wayne who broke free of his his man marker with a nice corner route.
The Celts took over with under 2 minutes left in the half and were stuck on a 3rd and long until Dale found Elis Nash for what would have been a go-ahead score if not for a great last ditch tackle by Jean-Pierre Lamy. The Celts snapped the ball with 2 seconds left when Dale found Elis in the corner of the end-zone for a huge score. After a successful XP conversion, the Celts led 13-6 at the break.
After the interval, the Phantoms defense stepped up and forced turnover, giving their offence a chance to grab momentum. Jez Smith began to pick apart the Celts zone defence, as his favourite target, Stuart Tarry, began to take over. On 3rd and long, Jez Smith found Stuart Tarry, giving him a chance to work some magic and break his way into the end-zone. Luke Hoskin added the XP to knot things up at 13 all.
Dale Davies replied through Elis Nash for another score, but the XP failed after a nice play by the Phantoms defence. With 5 minutes left, the Phantoms led a fine 7 play drive down the field and on 3rd down, Jez Smith found Tommy Bunting over the top for another TD in the corner! It was a lovely double move by the receiver and with the scores tied, the Phantoms took the initiative by converting the XP to Stuart Tarry!
With little time remaining, the Celts failed the move the ball into scoring range, and the tough Phantoms defence saw the game out to give the Phantoms a vital win.
The game balls in this contest go to Elis Nash and Stuart Tarry for a pair of sensational showings from the receiver position.
Elsewhere in the OFL’s Exile Flag Conference, Northants Titans Atlas wrapped up their second conference title is as many years with a dominant performance throughout the day with Adam Grindrod throwing for 16 TD’s and putting up 145 points. The defence on the other hand, conceded only 6 points, while scoring a number of times on their own!
The Northants Phantoms picked up the 2 wins and a loss, with the victories coming against the Cynon Valley Celts and the NuOla Rotherham Roosters (31-6). Their final game of the day against the Titans Atlas would see QB Jez Smith suffer an injury which would put him out of the game. They struggled to move the ball in Jez’s absence, and will be hoping he’s fit for the impending playoffs.
Blood, Sweat & Beers would impress with their re-tooled squad which saw the return of playmakers Joe Cotterill, Bill Ammons, and Calvin Tarlton and they would start the day with a forfeit 14-0 win against the absent Burnley Tornadoes. Their defence flexed its muscles with 28-0 & 32-0 wins against the Cheshire Cavaliers and Cynon Valley Celts respectively. A strong finish sees the BSB side secure a decent seeding going into the playoffs.
The Coventry Cougars Men would finish their season if on a high with 2 victories against Rugby Raccoons and Nottingham Bears, the with their lone loss coming at the hands of the Titans Atlas. Despite their successful day, they have been dealt a tough match up in the playoffs against the undefeated Victoria Park Panthers.
Finally in the EFC, the Cynon Valley Celts held firm in the top seed for the Plate Competition with a 1-2 day. The Cheshire Cavaliers would fall just behind the Celts on points difference, but they finished with a 2-1 day to pull within 30 points of the top seed in the Plate. The Nottingham Bears and Rugby Raccoons finished their day 0-3 but fell into the Plate Playoffs after Burnley Tornadoes forfeited the season, and held H2H tiebreakers over the NuOla Waves.
Over in the Bandit Flag Conference, the Victoria Park Panthers brought a fuller looking squad compared to the first two game days and finished their season undefeated after picking up victories against Coventry Panthers Yellow and Wigan Bandits. They won a highly anticipated game against the Chichester Sharks to cement their place at the top of the conference.
Finding themselves in second place with another 3-0 game day is the Northants Titans Prometheus who steamed past their first two opponents in Northants Titans Oceanus (51-0) and Coventry Cougars Women (49-6). Their third game against the Wigan Bandits was closer than expected but they pulled through to set up a tie with Blood, Sweat and Beers in the Quarter Finals.
In third place, finishing up with a 2-1 record on the day is the Chichester Sharks. They lost their star studded matchup against the Panthers, but retain their high standing in the conference after commanding performances against the Warrington Revolution and the Swindon Storm. Corey Bedford shone as he has done all season and will be expecting to receive plenty of votes in the Player of the Year votes. They have picked up a favourable match up if the Phantoms are without Jez Smith for the Quarter Finals.
Rounding out the final Outlaw Bowl playoff places is the Coventry Panthers Black side who went 3-0 with early victories against Cougars Women & Swindon Storm before heading into their epic showdown against the Warrington Revolution. After pulling off the huge win, they look ahead to facing the Titans Atlas in the playoffs.
The Warrington Revolution started their 3rd QB in as many weeks but would remain competitive on their way to 1-2 record on the day and sealed the top seed in the plate playoffs. The Wigan Bandits would finish 1-2 also after thrashing the Panthers Yellow and running the Titans Prometheus close. The Swindon Storm hit their projections of 3-6 for the season with a win in each game day to finish around middle of the pack. The Titans Oceanus would win in their decider against the Cougars Ladies to take the final plate playoff spot with the Cougars (0-3) winding up out of the playoff spots after a promising start to the season. The Panthers Yellow would finish bottom of the conference but they showed signs of improvement as the season went on.
The all important final regular season stats have been compiled and are below for your viewing pleasure. Remember, points don’t always mean prizes as we have asked teams to nominate for their player of the year awards which we will announce closer to finals day!