Last year’s Britball saw the Tamworth Phoenix beat the London Blitz 34-28. This year, the same teams met in the semi-final and it produced another close contest with the same result. The Phoenix always looked like they were going to the final to defend their crown after taking a 17-7 lead in the second quarter and finishing as the 30-17 victors.
In the other semi-final, the London Warriors, who had made a habit of owning the Britball championship until last year faced the Manchester Titans. There was never any doubt of the outcome with the London Warriors leading 27-0 at halftime before adding another 16 points in the second half to shutout the Titans 43-0.
This year’s final should be an interesting affair with Tamworth looking for back to back championships while the Warriors will be seeking retribution for their 38-34 defeat at the hands of the Phoenix in the semi-final last year.
Adult Britbowl XXXII – Saturday 8th September at the John Charles Centre of Sport, Leeds 4pm
Tamworth Phoenix vs London Warriors
Division 1 semi-finals
The Leicester Falcons lost to the Manchester Titans in last year’s semi-finals and this year faced the Northumberland Vikings. As previously highlighted in these pages, the Northumberland Lightning and the Newcastle Vikings played this season as the Northumberland Vikings. Neither of the former two teams made the playoffs last season, although in 2016 the Newcastle Vikings were beaten by the Falcons in the NFC II Final.
The Falcons took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and held that advantage until late in the final period when the Vikings hit pay dirt to take a one-point lead, only to see Leicester put together a drive that sealed a 15-8 triumph.
In torrential rain and a strong wind, the South semi-final saw the Solent Thrashers play host to the Kent Exiles. The Thrashers were knocked out by the London Olympians last year in the quarterfinals while the Exiles made it to the semi-finals where they also succumbed to the Olympians.
The Exiles had the first series and moved the chains with a ground game led by Daniel Excell and quarterback James Cook, but it was a short pass over the defense that found tight end James Bertram-Smith for the touchdown. The point after attempt was successful and the Exiles led 7-0.
After a good kick return from Solent that provided them with a short field, the Thrashers also used the run to good affect with Adam Bowley bursting through the Exiles defense and shaking off tackles for the score. The point after attempt was blocked giving the Exiles a one-point edge.
After seeing both teams scoring with apparent ease, the many fans who braved the hostile elements could imagine they were in for a touchdown feast, but it wasn’t to be.
Instead, they watched a hard-hitting battle between two teams hungry for a place in the Division 1 final with the defense dominating in the water park they were playing in.
Solent missed an opportunity to take the lead when their 42-yard field goal attempt fell short, but with 23 seconds remaining in the half, the Exiles overcame the slippery conditions to kick a field goal from 26 yards.
In the third quarter, the Thrashers decided not to kick a short field goal but go for it on fourth and short, but the Exiles defense held and further scoring opportunities for both teams did not emerge from the gloom until the final period.
With time running out, the Thrashers found the energy and spark to put together a drive with some zippy running that led to a first and goal. Stout pass defense and a solid Kent defensive line ensured they kept Solent out to give the Exiles the 10-6 victory.
The last words about this titanic encounter I leave to referee David Knight who enthused, “What a great game!” And who can argue with the ref?
Adult Division 1 Final – Sunday 9th September at the John Charles Centre of Sport, Leeds 2:30pm
Leicester Falcons vs Kent Exiles
Under 19s National Championship result
Manchester Titans 7 London Blitz 24
Under 19s National Plate Final result
East Kilbride Pirates 46 Hertfordshire Cheetahs 0