Lions steal a march on the South
A good day was had at the proverbial office yesterday as the Lions secured another two from two to keep the team unbeaten atop National Division One (South).
First up – Hertfordshire, and a strong display from the Lions’ recently re-calibrated Defense, put an under-strength Tornadoes side to the sword from the off. The visitor’s resilience shone through throughout, GB star’s Oli Davies working both sides of the ball and work-horse Becky Martin battening down the hatches as best she could, but the Lions’ defense was hunting, and as such, set the tone for the game.
On the O strong showings from rookie Ashleigh “Mash” Aiston out of the back-field were reminiscent of a debutante Ruth Matta some years earlier, and whilst the latter watched from the side-lines, there was no loss of service as the similarly diminutive Aiston showed a clean pair of heels on her way to two scores.
Pick sixes from stalwarts Laura Moore and the returning Phoebe Schecter added to the cause with three further “rookie” TDs following closely in tow: DL Lydia Campbell and CB Ellie Thorpe playing quick and smart in securing #Darkside scores, whilst WR Jodie Harris – fresh from last week’s GB Flag honours (with Thorpe) – grabbed a tidy 6 pointer from 7 yards out. QB Natalie Parker, with cap tilted towards her OL’s orchestrated maneuvering, complimented with one of her own to keep the scoreboard looking healthy.
A final score of 61-11 was a good showing for the home sides first outing of the day before swapping fields to take on Derby for a second time in as many weeks.
The Lions started well with an opening score that combined the yards of Aiston, Fullback Ant Morgan’s punishing carries and QB Jo Kilby’s scampering feet but whilst moving the ball forwards wasn’t constrained subsequent red zone execution at times faltered…a high snap here and a dropped ball there (unopposed, 5 yards out!) befell two such drives before Aiston reasserted some measure with a length of the field bust.
With the Lions’ defense in no mood for giving an inch, they played hard and fast throughout the first half, halting Derby’s efforts whichever way they turned (withholding first downs along the way) despite the Brave’s undaunted efforts, most personified by industrious QB(/DB) Collette Wong.
The second period started as the Lions started the first, with an opening score, this time via a quick fire aerial strike from Kilby to rookie WR Jess Hastings for an 18-0 lead.
As the game progressed defensive combinations started to tell as the likes of Nancy Stone, Afia Law, Nena Killick, Ciara Pinnington and Wiki Jorrën leveraged the good work of Aimee Cottingham, Alex Wadeson and Katie Carroll up front to close down threats whilst turning the screw. Rookie Linebacker Amber Roberts ensured she got in on the action forcing a fumble, with Schecter securing, to benefit her team.
On the next drive Thorpe was millimetres away from a pick-six before the ensuing offensive drive, led by Parker, took two plays to travel 30 yards before the game was abruptly called (with approx. 7 minutes remaining). With the Lions finishing strong player safety was cited and could only be respected as Derby’s day came to an early end, and with it too, so did the Lions’.
A further two wins from the day were well earned with yet again (11) rookies featuring strongly and with Matta and Hannah Pye returning to the squad for Round 3, and hopefully GB Practice Squad DB Caley Parnell good to go, the Lions will be looking to take a heavy-duty team to Derby for the inter-conference mash-up.
Here the Lions will take on the East Kilbride Pirates for a first ever meeting between the two sides whilst a re-run of last year’s finals will beckon in game two as the Lions take on high flying Leeds, who are also unbeaten in the North.
Our thanks to Director of Football Wayne Hill for acting as Game-day Manager and for organising a great deal behind the scenes for the team in the run up to the tournament, volunteers Nathan Lester, Inderjit Singh Pharwaha, Joe Guntrip and Wayne Drew for supporting with down-markers, videography and tournament logistics, alongside tog stalwart, Garry Charles.
Our final thanks goes to our very best friends, Pups Kaur and Jinda Ghuman from Versatile Therapists for keeping us on the field and fighting fit.
Image with thanks to Garry Charles Photography and © MyLonelyTreeMedia.