On a hot June day on the south coast, two unbeaten teams faced each other with more than honour at stake. The (3-0) Berkshire Renegades were visiting the (3-0) Solent Thrashers with hopes of heading the division. The Renegades were promoted from the SFC 2 South to the SFC 1 Central last season after going 9-1 and progressing to the division 2 South final where they triumphed 20-17 over the Wembley Stallions.
Unlike last year, the Thrashers have made a great start to the new season overcoming the Oxford Saints twice and the promoted Bristol Apache so the scene was set for an exciting encounter to decide who will stand alone on top of the division.
Defense dominated the opening skirmishes with the teams exchanging interceptions before the Thrashers moved the chains 64 yards finishing with Brad Sawyers’ pass over the top to James Gibson who fought off his tacklers to power his way across the goal line. The Thrashers took a lead of six points after the Renegades blocked the point after attempt.
Both teams found it difficult to make further progress until just before the half when a super long pass from Berkshire’s quarterback Dan Storey found a leaping Henrry Feurtado in the end zone. With a successful point after, the Renegades now edged their rivals 7-6.
The Thrashers came out of the locker room for the second half fired up marching 80 yards on their first possession with Adam Bowley finishing the drive with his touchdown run. Sam Scott ran in the two-point after and Solent were back in front 14-7.
A blocked punt gave the Renegades outstanding field position on their opponents’ one, but the resilient Thrashers defensive goal line stand was the turning point in the game. The ball went over to Solent after Berkshire failed with their four downs to get into the end zone. The Thrashers took over on their six-yard line before earning five first downs by running the ball at the Renegades.
As the game went into final period, the drive stalled and the Thrashers missed a field goal attempt, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave them another shot and Matt Hewlett successfully kicked a 39-yard field goal to extend their lead.
Solent’s Tom Davies scored late with an 18-yard touchdown run and another two-point success saw his team triumph 25-7 with Solent now on top of the division. The Thrashers ground game won the day, but the Renegades special teams lived up to their name with some great plays. The return is scheduled for July 8 with plenty more football to be played before then with the (3-1) Sussex Thunder entering the mix in a crucial game this Sunday when they travel to Solent.
BAFA National League highlights
In the Premiership North, the Tamworth Phoenix overwhelmed the Edinburgh Wolves 55-6. Next Saturday the Phoenix return to the Northern European Football League when they host the Oslo Vikings. Both teams have lost the two games they have played so with this their final game, it will only be pride and avoiding the wooden spoon they are playing for.
In the Premiership South, the London Blitz and the London Warriors are keeping pace with each other after defeating the Bury Saints 53-6 and the Farnham Knights 75-14 respectively.
In the NFC 1 South, the Leicester Falcons extended their winning streak with a 42-0 shutout of the Nottingham Caesars. The Falcons have scored 199 points in five games while conceding just 15. Leicester now has a bye week before hosting the Caesars.
The Staffordshire Surge join the Falcons on 5-0 after dominating the Crewe Railroaders 48-7 in the NFC 2 South while in the same division the Birmingham Bulls are also unbeaten at 3-0.
New to the National League in SFC 2 West, the (2-3) Somerset Wyverns lost 34-16 to the (3-0) Torbay Trojans. The (2-1) Norwich Devils who returned to the league this year were shutout 55-0 by the (3-0) London Blitz B.
To date, seventeen teams are still unbeaten, but that number will decrease as some will find themselves playing each other.