Lions Final Reflections
A good day’s work in Hertfordshire and some 110 miles north west, in Oldbury, saw the Lions’ two Sapphire Series’ teams finish up the regular season in fine fettle last weekend.
A well-deserved win against Royal Holloway and a tough, but most rewarding encounter with home side, Herts saw the South side finish the tournament-style competition rounds with 3 wins (out of 6) to end up an evenly placed 3rd (and overall, 7th nationally (out of 14 teams)) whilst the North, with a relatively local trip to Oldbury, continued winning ways with strong showings against Steelers’ Teesside and Sandwell to take home conference honours.
Both teams now look forward to BAFA’s Finals Day on the 4th of April, at the University of Derby, where the UK’s top 6 teams (Birmingham (N), Leeds, Teesside, Derby, Hertfordshire and London) will do battle for Championship honours whilst the remaining teams (Birmingham (S), Sandwell, Chester, Portsmouth, Manchester, Edinburgh, Royal Holloway and Solent Iceni) fight it out for national rankings.
On Round 3 reflection Birmingham South can probably feel a little unlucky not to have sneaked into the play-offs considering they finished their six game tournament run with a national 4th and 5th ranked offense and defense “…there should be no disappointment – for a majority-rookie team this is a fantastic achievement, let that not be in doubt” offered Club Head Coach Jamie Kilby, “we’ve seen the South team improve throughout the Series, as they’ve become more familiar with the play-book and each other, and their results against the teams that finished top of their conference have been hugely pleasing.”
Indeed they have – playing (eventual Conference winners) Hertfordshire Tornadoes in Round 1 the South team shipped 58 points, some 4 weeks later they took 33 points out of that score-line and that too in spite of the fact that the home team had shipped in some late GB additions to bolster ranks (including former Derby Brave Sam Hand and Richmond Rugby’s Sian Kersse) “…despite the loss that was a great result for us” offered South Head Coach Carl Lewis, “Herts are a good side but that we clawed so much back from them within the space of a few weeks probably surprised a lot of people, it shows we’re not just heading in the right direction but that we’re getting better and you can’t argue with that.”
Stand-out performances from Corner-Safety Chloe Spalding and Receiver Sophie Etheridge helped keep the team competitive on both sides of the ball and a well-deserved 21-13 win against a feisty RHUL Bears side followed their 25-6 loss to Herts.
Up the M1-M6 axis the Lions’ North continued to excel: 59-0 and 96-0 wins respectively against Teesside and home side, Sandwell, handed the defending champions the Northern Conference title and with it the country’s number one ranked offense and defense (and that with a default-awarded 2pts to nil score-line yielded from a Round 1 walk-over) to boot.
With GB Tackle Michelle Gwynne back in the ranks for Round 3 alongside the fast emerging Elisha Huxtable at Centre, a glut of scores ensued benefiting FB Steph De-Haven, RB Ruth Matta and WR and Offensive MVP Hannah Pye, all complimented by an outstanding performance from the defense-collective across both games.
“So many players put their hands up” offered Kilby, “but I’ve got to cite our defense’s prowess on the day for setting us up, and in particular plaudits need to go to [Rnd 3] Defensive Captain line-backer Phoebe Schecter, who simply put was immense, across every facet of the game. Defensive Coordinator Branagh is doing a great job in keeping his units focused and up-skilled and I know he’ll be working them hard over the next few practice sessions in preparation for Finals Day.”
So if you’re free on the 4th of April why not head to Derby University to support both your teams, they’d love to see you there we’re sure. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details.
Image courtesy of, and with thanks to Whizzyfingers Photography.