The standout fixture in the BUCS calendar, xpLosION, took place this Saturday, when the Portsmouth Destroyers made the long journey north to face the Birmingham Lions. The Birmingham outfit had incredible pressure on their shoulders coming into the fixture, hoping to avenge both their first ever loss in xpLosION last year and a painful opening day defeat at the hands of the Swansea Titans. The Lions managed to emphatically exorcise these demons, picking up a comfortable 38-14 victory
In their first game this season the Lions’ offence had shown flashes of brilliance, but struggled to maintain consistency and finish off drives. This Saturday, meanwhile, showcased that this quality was the real deal, and not simply luck. Right from the off it was clear that the O was here to ‘ball, with a 65-yard drive capped off by a Darius Price dive into the end zone.
Wary of resting of their laurels, for fear of a repeat of the previous year, the offence kept their foot on the gas, amassing two further touchdowns before the end of the first quarter. Quarterback Rohan Sandhu had another strong showing at the helm of the team, adding two more passing touchdowns, and one more rushing, to his total on the year, bringing it to five.
The Portsmouth defence fought hard, but despite some strong talent (including GB safety Jason Selormey), they could not match this reinvigorated Lions offence, particularly the connection between Sandhu and Elliot Walters. Walters, who plies his trade at running back for the Tamworth Phoenix, has found great success this year working from the slot, managing yet another game of over 80 yards on offence, as well as scoring a further two touchdowns.
The Lions defence, meanwhile, bounced back from an admittedly uncharacteristic blip in week one. A mixture of new and old helped to keep the destroyers at bay, with veteran stewards such as Will Stone and Nik Evans teaming up with first year starters, such as Michael Priest and Harrison Crane to get the job done. The defence was especially watertight in the first half, completely shutting down the Portsmouth offence. Only minor mental lapses and a pair of outstanding plays by receiver Sam Chance allowed to Destroyers to escape the ignominy of failing to score all game long.
To round out a near-perfect day for the Lions is their special teams. Whilst this unit had enough splash plays to last a season in their opener, they too decided to show up on the big stage. Of particular note, and perhaps the play of the day, was Ben Thomas’ heroic 85-yard kick-off return for a decisive touchdown.
The Lions move to 1-1 on the season, and will look to get to a winning record on the 2nd of December against the Hertfordshire Hurricanes in the inaugural Winter WonderLION event.
To see highlights from the game, check out the link below: