Confirmation of BritBall’s increased popularity is the growth in the streaming of their games. Although they is no substitute for NCAA games, it’s definitely a positive for the advancement of the game over here and for fans starved of their pro-football.
Two key games were streamed last Saturday. The early one was the leftovers from the University season although the game was a main course to savour and not just an entrée for the later game. The Coventry Jets and the Newcastle Raiders battled for the BUCS Division 2 North title and served up a football feast.
The two teams exchanged scoring opportunities throughout the game before Coventry edged it 40-38 when Newcastle’s two-point after failed to take the game into overtime.
The late game saw the Tamworth Phoenix make their home debut in the Northern European Football League and in their new Pack Meadow home. After losing 50-7 to the Copenhagen Towers in their first European adventure, the Phoenix continued to struggle in adapting to international football.
Tamworth’s opponents were the Carlstad Crusaders who overcame the Oslo Vikings 56-17 in their first game of the 2018 NEFL season. After both teams scored on their opening possessions, the Crusaders ran away with the rest of the first half posting a 34-7 lead.
Tamworth turned the ball over with 49 seconds remaining in the half. Pat Daley’s pass heading for the end zone was intercepted by Julius Rucker who ran it back for a touchdown. It was a 14-point turnaround from which Tamworth never recovered.
The Phoenix were more effective on defense in the second half and reduced their deficit with a touchdown that saw the result finish 34-14. The UK champions can take heart from a second half performance that promises there is more to come as they find their feet in the competition.
BAFA early season highlights
With four weeks of the season gone, there are four teams riding high at 3-0. Two of those teams are in the NFC 2 South where the Birmingham Bulls and the Staffordshire Surge won’t face each other until their last two regular season games in July. This Sunday, the Surge travel to the (0-2) Lincolnshire Bombers hoping to go 4-0.
The Leicester Falcons are flying in the NFC 1 South where their three wins have seen them score 111 points while giving up just 15. The Falcons are competing with the Surge to be the first team to go 4-0 and travel to the (2-1) Shropshire Revolution Sunday.
In the NFC 2 North, the Aberdeen Roughnecks advanced to 3-0 after squeezing past the Dumfries Hunters 26-20.
With Tamworth engaged in the European League, the Edinburgh Wolves head the Premiership North with two wins. The Wolves host the (2-1) Manchester Titans Sunday while the Phoenix travel to the (0-1) Merseyside Nighthawks so the positions could change. In the Premiership South, the London Warriors and the London Blitz continue to dominate and comfortably moved to 2-0 without getting into gear.
The Portsmouth Dreadnoughts begun their SFC 2 South season with two shutouts of the Bournemouth Bobcats followed by the Swindon Storm while the Bobcats overwhelmed the Hastings Conquerors 65-8 last Sunday to get off the mark last weekend.
In the NFC 1 North, the Northumberland Vikings edged past the Lancashire Wolverines and then the Gateshead Senators by one point. The newly merged Northumberland organisation’s fingertips must be down to the bone with those two close fought victories.
The Somerset Wyverns are enjoying their first season in the league and found it tough in the SFC 2 West to get past the winning post until Sunday. Having been edged out by the South Wales Warriors 8-6 before suffering a 34-6 loss to the Worcestershire Black Knights, the Wyverns overcame the Jurassic Coast Raptors 42-8 to post their first victory in the National League.
Ties in BritBall are as rare as a hot summer’s day in the UK, but the second week of the season produced two. After the Lancashire Wolverines were leading 19-7 at the half in the NFC 1 North against the Gateshead Senators, the game ended with a 33-33 tie. In the SFC 1 Central, the Berkshire Renegades tied 21-21 with the Oxford Saints.