Pulling The Flag

Mixed opening day for GB in Euros

Wins over Sweden and the Czech Republic propelled GB’s men’s team to 2-0 after the first day of European Championship action in Spain.

However, it was more of a baptism of fire for the women’s team in their first international tournament, losing 47-0 to the hosts in their morning game. The second game brought a 35-0 defeat to a polished Germany side.

The men’s outfit were hoping to build on a ninth place finish in the World Cup last year, and they shot out to a 20-6 halftime lead against the Swedes. While Sweden added points in the second half and Britain didn’t quite pull away in the way they threatened to at times, the opposition couldn’t get close enough to GB to spring a surprise, and lost out by a score of 34-27.

GB head coach Stuart McKay seemed confident of progressing to the quarter finals in his pre-tournament interview with Pulling the Flag. And the team carried their momentum into their second game against the Czech Republic. The highly-rated Michael Bradley-Banszki grabbed three TDs and three XPs, while Tim Thomas made his mark on his return from Helsinki with two TDs and a two-point XP. Kenny Bello and Fraser Thomson also bagged scores, while Matt Wilkinson, Tim Eaton and Dean Whittingslow came up with picks and Josh Allen got a sack.

The game ended 47-20 to GB, which will put them in a good position going into crucial games against Italy (10.30am UK) and Austria (5pm UK) tomorrow.

GB’s Michael Scott said: “We’ll need to keep improving, as it’s a very tough day tomorrow against two very good teams. But we’re definitely off to a good start and heading in the right direction.”

GB women’s captain Louise Lee told Pulling the Flag that nerves may have been a factor in their start to tournament flag football. But while they didn’t get on the scoreboard on Day One, they put up a solid fight against two decent sides.

Spain started strongly on offense and defense in the opener, gathering up yards by targeting receivers in the zones, and aggressively challenging for the ball on defense. In the end, they claimed a statement 47-0 victory over Andrew Gambrill’s rookie international side, but Louise Lee says the team showed courage to bounce back so quickly after a deflating defeat.

“People are learning how to deal with the pressure. That’s the biggest thing. It’s individual pressure. The bounce-back between the two games was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. The girls picked themselves up so well, shook off the first game and we went out for the first snap of the Germany game.”

We’ve got extracts of her interview with PTF tonight on the audio player below.

 

 

Germany are one of the top-tier sides in the women’s event this year, and they started with a flourish of confidence. While the pace of the first half saw the GB women drop behind 28-0, they showed resolve and spirit in the second half to hold Germany to a single second-half score.

“Everyone’s bonding really well”, said Louise. “It’s a great group of girls…having a united team is the first thing. If you’ve got a crack in the team it’s never going to work. Everyone’s supporting each other and giving each other space. We couldn’t ask for anything better at this point.”

The team will aim to hit the ground running tomorrow with games against Israel (9am UK), France (12pm) and Austria (5pm). But they’re already overwhelmed by the support they’ve received back home.

“I went onto my newsfeed today, and there were messages of support, and people sending photos”, said Louise. “I cried for ages. It was so nice that people were there and watching it and we’re so grateful because it did cheer people up today, it really did.”

If you missed out on today’s action, you can catch up by clicking on the livestream links below.

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