LIONS WIN HISTORIC THIRD TITLE
The Lions are celebrating again this weekend having wrapped up a third British title, across consecutive seasons, something no other British Women’s American Football tackle team has achieved to date.
Entering the fourth and final round of BAFA’s Sapphire Series, the Lions, dominant in all prior rounds, were expected to face Leeds Carnegie and Derby Braves at their own home tournament, but due to the latter outfit having defaulted in round two, the schedulers took it upon themselves to deny Birmingham the opportunity to play their outstanding fixture against Derby and instead they faced just a solitary opponent, in the form of Leeds.
The Lions quest for an unprecedented treble couldn’t have gotten off to a better start however when from the opening play Half-Back Ruth Matta took it 35 yards to the end zone. Pressure applied to Leeds’ Offense at every turn restricted their momentum – the Lions’ defense only making 8 solo tackles all game, whilst 37 tackle-assists ruined much of Leeds’ ambition.
With 200 yards rushing making relevant headlines (over a 40yd long field) two further scores from Matta, an impressive reception from Wide Receiver Hannah Pye and an almost familiar fumble-recovery (to yield a touchdown) from Linebacker Afia Law and the game was over by half-time, the Lions taking a commanding 31 points to nil lead to put one hand firmly on the trophy.
The game now under control the Lions were able to cycle in the rest of their squad, and whilst a raft of changes allowed Leeds some traction, grabbing 3 scores by the end of the fixture, the hosts maintained their grip by sinking three of their own courtesy of Fullback Emelie Taylor and Half-Back Suzi James. The final score of the game was left, befittingly, to Wide Receiver Celine Bisson. Having been with the team since Season 2, the Birmingham University student from France had never scored a touchdown before, until Quarterback Natalie Parker stepped up and hit her on a slant on the last play of the last game of the season to send the crowd into raptures. Final score: Birmingham 49-18 Leeds, and with it, the Lions secured their third consecutive national title, and deservedly so.
“The continued development and success of the Lions Women is down to the hard work and dedication of all the coaches, administration and players on the programme” offered Director of Football, Wayne Hill “…a third national title is a massive achievement.”
The club, as an organisation, will now move into its off-season, however it’s expected that a large contingent of Lions will turn out for a summer of BAFA events in search of regional and international honours. We wish them all good luck and offer our congratulations to the team for another, wonderful season.
Image courtesy of, and with thanks to, Andy M Neale, © Whizzyfingers Photography.