SEC interconference games, Aylesbury 5th May 2017
A blustery and overcast day saw the first set of SEC interconference games at Aylesbury Rugby Club.
The opening game saw a mouthwatering matchup between two divisional title challengers with the Showboats facing the Sharks. A back and forth affair, there was never more than a score in it. Sharks QB Neil Henderson was able to move the ball about with scoring passes to Corey Bedford (2), Pete Steel (2) and Gary Robinson (1) with the Showboats Nick Bertenshaw only able to get the ball in the end zone 4 times but spreading the ball around nicely. The Bertenshaw attack was stifled on several drives with excellent blitzing and three key sacks from Sharks’ recent signing Alex Brown.
This was another back and fore game that really could have gone either way but it was the Panthers prevailing by a single score on this occasion. Sharks QB Henderson again found Bedford for a pair of TDs with two more coming through Steel and rookie Lloyd Cheesman (the latter for his first offensive TD).
QB Pete Coppenhall was missing several players, including GB Silver Centre Matt Turner. However, the Panthers were still able to move the ball effectively and consistently score. A pair of TD catches from man-giant Charlie ‘Hovis’ Douglas setup further scores from Mark Streather and Nick Lismore-John before a blown assignment saw Phil Hine catch the ball for the go ahead touchdown. The always solid Panthers defence got interceptions from Mark Streather (1) and Will Abel (2).
A tetchy affair in the third game saw the Panthers take on the Showboats. This was another nail biter with teams trading scores and turnovers. Tied 19-19 at intermission, there was little scoring in the second half. The Showboats tied it up at 25-25 with a few seconds remaining but couldn’t get the XP to take the lead. This left the Panthers with 5 seconds and a whole pitch to cover to get a highly unlikely score for the win.
The Showboats were caught out by the snap count so were unable to blitz, giving Coppenhall a bit more time to allow his WRs get downfield. The resulting Hail Mary pass was released at about 6 ½ seconds and inches behind the LOS and remarkably it was caught, unchallenged, by Mark Streather at the 1yd line from where he was able to get the score. Elation for the Panthers, despondency for the Showboats. A draw would have been a result no one would have argued against but the amazing finish will live long in the memory.
Trouble converting XPs would prove to be the difference as the Spartans came up short. The teams traded 6 TDs each but with the Spartans only able to convert 2 of those the Sharks saw out this tight affair. Henderson threw 6 TDs, 3 to to Bedford, 2 to Cheesman and one to Brown, while stand in Spartans QB, GB WR Jeff Bond (who got the QB call up only a few hours before KO) spread the ball well finding four different WRs for TDs, standout amongst those, SEC Capital team mate Dan Benning. The last of those was a lovely deep pass for the score but it came too late with the Sharks already 9 points in front. Turning point in the game was late in the second half when Bedford stepped in front of a Bond pass for the interception (setting the Sharks up with a short field for the go ahead score) but the Spartans WR (#86 who was being covered by Bedford) was judged to have over-physically pulled Bedford to the ground during the tackle and was subsequently ejected from the game (possible a harsh decision but accepted without complaint).
With both teams already playing 2 games, fatigue had begun to set in, especially for the Showboats who only had six players. The Thrashers started in fine form having just beaten the Cougars and were ready to add another W to the day. The Thrashers began with a a bang as Adam Russel found Tom Barnes for an opening-play touchdown.
The game was a heated affair as frustration could be seen on both sides of the ball with a couple of tetchy moments throughout the first half and three 4 and outs for the Thrashers! Despite a few blown assignments from the Showboats defence they managed to pick it up and start to pull away with the lead, even with the Thrashers defence putting on the pressure. With only 30 seconds left in the game the Showboats were going to kneel it out, but the Thrashers convinced the Showboats to stay on the field, only to help the Showboats increase the lead with another TD right at the end.
Other Fixtures – The below matchups also took place on the day. While we do not have extensive summaries as our correspondents were otherwise involved, as always, detailed stats and scores can be found on their respective event pages.
You can see all the standings on the SEC hub page!