Pirates fall against Blitz in junior Britbowl battle

August 29th, 2017

East Kilbride Pirates 42 – London Blitz 46

For the second successive year the Junior Pirates came within minutes of winning the British title, only to see it taken away in the dying moments of the game.  However, they should not be too disappointed as they contributed greatly to a game that will continue to be talked about in the weeks and months ahead. The battle of two contrasting styles, London’s rampaging rushing game against East Kilbride’s aerial acrobatics, led to a high scoring shoot-out that was enjoyed not only by the fans, families and friends in attendance, but by the thousands who watched the live online coverage.

The Pirates received the opening kick off and made some progress before having to punt. Gary Speedie’s kick pinned the Blitz at their 2-yard line, however a break out run by Aaron Mahoney-Jones on 2nd Down gained 92 yards, being caught just 7 yards from the Pirates’ endzone. Two plays later and Alex Adimora ran around left end from 4 yards out to open the scoring. QB Lewis Key ran in the 2PAT to make it 8-0 in favour of London. There was little sign of what was to come as both sides could only build short drives before having to punt. London frequently chose to kick the ball away from the dangerous returners of EK and as a result, were giving the Pirates good field position. EKP eventually took advantage just before the end of the period when Sam Montgomerie passed to Struan Bailey from 29 yards then hit Fraser McDonald on the 2PAT to tie the scores heading into the second quarter.

London’s opening drive after the turnaround was cut short by a spectacular, leaping, one-handed interception by EK’s Ryan Miller. The Pirates went 4-and-out and a low punt snap on 4th Down saw them lose even more yards. The Blitz quickly capitalised, with Kay passing to Tunde Ganiyu from 27 yards, before adding the 2 extra points by finding Jason Soetan with another pass to take the lead again at 16-8.The teams traded punts before East Kilbride set off on their next scoring drive, starting near midfield. Two passes to Jack Hunter moved the ball to the London 27 before Montgomerie passed to McDonald to narrow the deficit. A short kick on the restart and a good return took the ball to the Pirates’ 46-yard line. From there, Mahoney-Jones only needed one play to score, breaking tackles on his way to the endzone. Key ran in the Extra Points to conclude the first half scoring at 24-14 in London’s favour.

Neither side made any headway on their first possession after the interval, while London’s second saw them move backwards, losing over 30 yards on a Sack by Craig Sanders and then a fumbled punt snap. Just 4 plays later and McDonald was back in the endzone, courtesy of a 39-yard completion from Montgomerie. London’s response was short-lived and they had to punt again, finding the endzone with the kick. A 44-yard pass to McDonald moved the ball into Blitz territory and two offside penalties against the defence advanced it to the 26-yard line. Montgomerie then completed his 4th TD pass, this time to Bailey.

London were once more held at bay and had to kick the ball away. Their defence got in on the act though with John Castello picking off Montgomerie’s 1st Down pass and returning it 22 yards to score. Connor Rodgers ran in the 2PAT and the Blitz again had their noses in front at 32-26. Still not giving up, EKP bounced straight back. A Montgomerie fumble was recovered by Jack Cochrane, who took advantage of the broken play to move the ball to London’s 22-yard line.  On the next play, Montgomerie made up for his earlier slip by finding Bailey again to level the scores as the game moved into the final period.

On the first play of the quarter London coughed up possession, Mark Stewart causing the fumble and Ben Gallagher recovering the loose ball. A short drive of just 4 plays concluded with the pairing of Montgomerie and McDonald combining for a third TD, this time from 13 yards. Montgomerie also added the 2PAT pass to Bailey to put EK 40-32 ahead. London kept battling away and reduced the gap to just 2 points when Key completed a rare pass to Ganiyu from 14 yards out. East Kilbride were then unable to take much time off the clock before punting. The Blitz soon got themselves back ahead on a 41-yard run by Mahoney-Jones. QB Key ran in the 2PAT leaving the Pirates needing a TD to tie the game with less than 3 minutes to play.

The last chance looked doomed to failure when Montgomerie was sacked on 3rd-and-15, but a taunting penalty against London not only regained the lost yards, but came with an automatic 1st Down. This was immediately followed by a pass interference call then later, on a 4th-and-4, the Blitz defence jumped offside to extend drive and bring up 1st-and-Goal. Unfortunately an interception by Jonny Clarke meant there was to be no tying score. As London tried to kneel out the game, the Pirates used their time-outs hoping to force a punt and one last chance to save the game. However, a heads-up play on 4th Down by Key saw him keep the ball in the endzone, allowing time to expire, before letting himself be tackled by Ryan Miller for the 2-point safety, leaving London Blitz as 2017 Britbowl U19 Champions.

No fewer than 12 of this squad now graduate to a Pirates Senior team that will be all the better for their presence. Those remaining will take a short break before teaming up with others moving on from both East Kilbride Pirates and Hamilton Buccaneers Youth teams to prepare for the 2018 campaign.

Game report by Bill Campbell

Junior Britbowl – quick facts

  • It was the 29th Junior final in history
  • The margin of victory (4 points) was the joint third lowest of all time
  • The average margin of victory in the finals is 23 points. We have lost two finals by a total of ten points!
  • It’s the most points ever scored by losing team (previous highest scoring losers were Gateshead in 2008 with 28!)
  • It was the highest scoring final of all time by 23 points (previous record was 1991, Northants Storm 59-6 London Capitals)




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