Pulling The Flag

Opal Series: Titans & Cougars Start Fast

Could Northants and Coventry be the teams to beat this season?

The Coventry Cougars began their defence of their Opal Series title with a bang – but the hosting Northants Titans also looked lethal to kick off the competition.

Northants receiver Hannah Pye’s scoring spree helped the Titans take their division by storm in Tournament One, beating their opponents in Crown division without conceding a point.

However, they’ll have to get past Coventry to claim Opal Series silverware this year. The Cougars also went unbeaten in their division, setting themselves up nicely for the next round of games on November 8.

With Hertfordshire unable to attend and Sheffield Hallam spectating, 12 teams took the field in Northampton for BAFA’s leading women’s flag competition. The Manchester Titans, Coventry Cougars, London Warriors, Derby Braves, Gloucester Centurions and Portsmouth Destroyers made up the Sceptre division, while the Warwick Wolverines, Teesside Steelers, Solent Thrashers, Northants Titans, RHUL Bears and University of Nottingham made up Crown Group.

Image by Neil Wymer

The first round of games saw Notts take down RHUL by a score of 20 to 7, while the Wolverines narrowly defeated Solent by a score of 19 to 18. The Manchester Titans – who’d brought a large and vocal squad to the tournament – knocked off the Centurions 19 to 12, while Coventry started speedily with a 33 to 7 win over London.

Warwick continued their winning streak in round two with a 14-0 shutout of Teesside, whose talismanic captain Bev Marwood was still on the mend from calf surgery. The Wolverine’s defense is frequently a tricky proposition for quarterbacks, led by the dominating Louise Lee. Northants blanked RHUL 25-0, while Manchester continued its run with a 19-14 defeat of Portsmouth. London bounced back from its opening loss against the defending champs by shutting out Derby 22-0, pushing themselves back to 1-1 on the day.

In the decisive third set of games, Northants continued their dominant form, beating Notts 25-0. Teesside bounced back with a 20-7 win over Solent, and Gloucester got back to 1-1 with an 18-6 win over the Destroyers. Coventry breezed past Derby by a score of 36-0.

The final games were a battle for first, third and fifth in each group. The Northants Titans kept up their superb run in the final, defeating the Wolverines 33-0 to claim Crown division. In the other division, it was a bridge too far for the Manchester Titans, who had turned heads on the day with some huge passes and noticeable enthusiasm. They fell 46-7 to the Coventry Cougars, with Sarah Wakelin’s lightning-quick blitzing catching the eye.

London beat Gloucester 12-7 in their matchup, while Teesside took third in their division with a 13-12 squeaker over Notts. Derby Braves got their first win of the day against Portsmouth by a score of 18-6, while RHUL got past Solent 12-6.

With Northants and Coventry leading the pack, the action now pauses until November 8, when the teams will split between tournaments in Salford and Hatfield.

All images by Neil Wymer

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Full Tournament One results:

SCEPTRE

Round 1

Manchester 19 Gloucester 12
Coventry 33 London 7

Round 2

London 22 Derby 0
Manchester 19 Portsmouth 14

Round 3

Coventry 36 Derby 0
Gloucester 18 Portsmouth 6

Round 4

Coventry 46 Manchester 7
London 12 Gloucester 7
Derby 18 Portsmouth 6

CROWN

Round 1

Warwick 19 Solent 18
Uni of Nottingham 20 RHUL 7

Round 2

Northants 25 RHUL 0
Warwick 14 Teesside 0

Round 3

Northants 25 Notts 0
Teesside 20 Solent 7

Round 4

Northants 33 Warwick 0
Teesside 13 Notts 12
RHUL 12  Solent  6

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