Exeter Falcons were the host for the SWC South Divisional Round which saw Hereford Stampede, Cardiff Hurricanes and Plymouth Buccaneers descend on sunny Exeter in what would prove to be an interesting day for the SWC South. Here’s how the games went down;
The first contest was a close game in the opening exchanges between the division leading Hereford Stampede and rookie side Exeter Falcons. The first half saw the Stampede get on the board first after a botched hand off that landed in the hands of the oncoming blitzer Max Drury for the touchdown to start the game off. Exeter responded through some poor deep coverage from the Stampede that allowed Lewis Phillips to capitalise, giving the Falcons an 18-13 lead at halftime.
The second half had both teams performing much better offensively, but it was Exeter who were able to turn on the magic by moving the ball effectively, beating the Stampede with deep balls that have become a signature for them. The Falcons reverted to shorter plays to see out the victory.
This one will go down as an upset considering the previous matchup between these sides saw the Stampede win, 27-2. the Falcons had come to play in the return leg of the division match up and were deserved winners. The gameball goes to George Pearson who capped off a TD hat-trick performance with a memorable toe-tapping touchdown.
As the score suggests, this was a thriller between two close rivals who have found themselves in a number of matchups against each other in 2017. The Falcons currently hold a 1-0 lead against the Buccs during the 2017 Season after beating them in week 1 with a score of 51-31. This game would be closer than the first match up with Plymouth making a strong start after two interceptions by Adam Lines on the first two offensive drives by the Falcons, which Plymouth took advantage of by scoring twice.
The Falcons would respond strongly by going back to basics and moving the chains regularly with a stand out performance from George Pearson who snagged 3 touchdowns for the Falcons and a clutch 2 XP catch to change the game for Exeter, giving them a 7 point lead heading into the final drive of the game. With 30 seconds left on the clock, Barry Sellers would march his offence down the field, until Jay Kewley-Joys came up with a game winning interception for the Falcons.
Despite being on the losing side, the MVP of this game was Adam Lines from the Buccaneers, who had himself a strong performance on both sides of the ball picking up 2 TDs, 2 XPs & 3 INTs.
After both losing to the Falcons earlier in the day, these teams would be looking to pick themselves up and ensure they left Exeter with a win. Unfortunately for the depleted Hereford side, it would be the Buccaneers who would bounce back from their loss and put on a show, with Barry Sellers throwing for 6 TD’s & 4 XP’s. It was a complete team performance for the Buccs as Adam Lines and Iain Sawczyszak both picked up hat-tricks in this contest. The defence also came up big, especially in the second half, limiting the Stampede to 2 points and picking up 6 interceptions – including two pick 6’s to storm to a 52-9 victory.
This result sent the Stampede home without a victory on the day, as they lost ground to the Cardiff Hurricanes in the race for SWC South. Adam Lines picks up his second gameball of the day, as he dominated on his way to an impressive stat line of 3 TDs, 4 XPs, 4 INTs and 2 pick 6s.
Exeter came into this game on a hot streak after winning their first two on the day against some tough competition, and they would be hoping to walk away from their home game day with 3 wins. However Cardiff were fresh on their first game of the day and that would be the deciding factor in a game which saw a close first half end at 13-12 to the Hurricanes.
Cardiff would hold the advantage, taking the ball first in the second half where Matt Thomas would hit Centre Josh Cranton to take 20-12 advantage. With Exeter looking to respond, they started marching down the field until Cardiff DB Drew Carey had other ideas, coming up with a big interception (one of 4 INTs in the game) and taking it to the house to take charge of the game. From then on out, the stingy Cardiff defence would not concede a single point in the second half, while the offence led by the clinical Matt Thomas scored twice more to rookie David Ponting to finish strong in a dominant second half performance on both sides of the ball. The gameball in this contest is a close one but it goes to Matt Thomas, who spread the ball around to his receivers with some phenomenal throws and great accuracy in the pocket.
This has become an interesting matchup over the past two years, as the Buccaneers have proved to be a stumbling block for the Hurricanes since they entered the league. Their game in week 2 was the closest that Cardiff have come to a second defeat of the season, holding onto the victory with a score of 26-24. This game would be no different as both QB’s traded touchdowns with Matt Thomas hitting Richard Phelps for a brace and Barry Sellers returning serve, finding Adam Lines and Iain Sawczyszak. With the game looking like it could go either way, Drew Smith came up trumps with an incredible pick 6 effort from inside the Cardiff half. Plymouth would pick up a consolation score to the impressive Adam Lines. Cardiff would move to the top of the division with this important victory.
Gameball is split in this contest between receiver Richard Phelps, who moves to 14 TD’s on the season, and Drew Smith for game winning pick 6 to take his team to the top of the division.
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