BAFA National League week 13 highlights

BAFA National League week 13 highlights
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The Tamworth Phoenix beat the Manchester Titans 56-13 to assure themselves of the Premiership North title with three remaining games to play.

In the Premiership South, the (1-5) Farnham Knights reluctantly forfeited their game against the London Warriors citing injury challenges, players away on holiday, the World Cup and the excuse that a “tactical forfeit” had been used previously by the Bury Saints.

If football is going to be taken seriously in the UK, it doesn’t do itself any favours cancelling games and I’m sure the 84-0 defeat by the Warriors when they travelled south to Farnham two weeks ago had nothing to do with the Knights’ decision. For the Warriors it will be the second game that has been conceded to them after the forfeit by the Saints in week 6.

The London Blitz confirmed their place in the playoffs with a 50-0 shut out of the Maidstone Pumas while the last game of the season when the Blitz travel south to play the Warriors could be the title decider.

The Northumberland Vikings overwhelmed the Gateshead Senators 56-0. In the Vikings’ season opener, they just edged the Senators 20-19 before going forward to dominate the NFC 1 North with six more wins to confirm their place in the playoffs.

The Leicester Falcons wrapped up the NFC 1 South division with a 40-12 triumph over the Doncaster Mustangs while the Sandwell Steelers maintained their momentum with a 57-0 victory over the Coventry Jets. The two division leaders will play Saturday night football next weekend when the Falcons host the Steelers at 6pm.

When the (6-0) Hertfordshire Cheetahs travelled south to face the (5-0) Portsmouth Dreadnoughts in the SFC 2 South there was always going to be a lot of heat on the field as the teams battled for the division title. The strong sunshine ensured the dry, parched field became a boiling cauldron in which only the fittest would survive.

The Dreadnoughts took a 7-0 lead scoring on their first possession after a 52-yard drive that ended with a touchdown run from Dan Thomas. The Cheetahs hit back making the most of an interception to move the chains 64 yards and finishing with a touchdown down pass hauled in by Matthew Day.

After Portsmouth were held to a successful 35-yard field goal from George Evans, the Cheetahs improved their chances of a victory with a touchdown catch by Rowhan Huggins to take a 12-10 lead at the half.

Portsmouth used their ground game to good effect in the second half grinding out the yards before Jack Flemming broke left, danced down the sideline and lunged over for the score. With the point after attempt failing, the Dreadnoughts were 16-12 ahead. Just before the end of the third quarter, Portsmouth consolidated their lead with Kieran Bellinger sweeping left around the defense for the score.

As the Cheetahs played catch-up in the final period, the Dreadnoughts pass defence made some outstanding plays and it was Portsmouth who were in position for the the final scoring opportunity before the clock ran out. Portsmouth Dreadnoughts 23 Hertfordshire Cheetahs 12.

In the extreme hot conditions, both teams played their part in an entertaining game. The Dreadnoughts now hold the key to the division title, but in two weeks’ time the return game at Hertfordshire presents the Cheetahs with the chance to avenge their third straight defeat by Portsmouth.

The Cambridgeshire Cats clawed their way out of their current two-game losing streak with a 25-21 victory over the London Hornets to make the SFC 1 East a wide-open division. With all teams in the division involved with games next Sunday, it should make the picture a little clearer. But, then again it might not.

In the NFC 2 Central the top two teams fought out a 6-6 tie after the Halton Spartans took the lead in the first quarter and the Chester Romans scoring in the second period. With both extra points missed, it once again shows the importance of the kicker.

In the SFC 1 Central, the Solent Thrashers bounced back from their only loss on the season by dominating the Ouse Valley Eagles 63-7 while the Sussex Thunder posted a 42-0 win over the Bristol Apache to stay in second place. In the same division, the Berkshire Renegades squeezed passed the Oxford Saints 28-27 to keep their playoff hopes alive. Will their 21-21 tie in week 2 prove their downfall or their entry into post season football?

The London Blitz B extended their unbeaten streak to seven with a 50-0 win over the Maidstone Pumas consolidating their lead at the top of the SFC 2 East over the Norwich Devils who were on a bye.

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