Pulling The Flag

Pick 6

1: Hereford Stampede For Real?

Image courtesy of Hereford Stampede

The Stampede look like they are for real this time around. They started well last season and faded away towards the business end of the season.

This time around, they lost their opener against the Merthyr Tydfil Thunderducks, but then went on to beat the Cardiff Hurricanes in their last game of their opening game day.

Not many had anticipated that they’d beat the very impressive Northants Titans Blue team though. Well, maybe two people did by accident when doing the writers picks, in Anthony Scott Martin and Lewis David Philips.

But beat them they did, in what looked like a fine defensive display, holding the Titans to an uncharacteristic 27-14 scoreline

They’re still behind the Hurricanes in the standings having played one less game, but hold the head-to-head on them currently, so that will likely change.

A trip to Big Bowl will do them no harm either. We know what that can do for teams and their progression.

2: Machi v Tarlton

The build up to the Buttonhookers v Rebels SEC Central opening day was pretty long winded. We had to wait nearly a month since some league games kicked off, but boy was the wait worth it.

With thanks to Mark Streather of the Victoria Park Panthers, we were able to bring you a live stream of the game and what a game it was!

It seemed like there was another narrative in play here, with Buttonhookers and Rebels QBs, Vince Machi and Calvin Tarlton constantly throwing rockets to their receiving corps.

With rumors the former may have relieved the latter of his international duties, there was always likely to be a bit off added spice to the proceedings.

The Buttonhookers took an early lead, with the Rebels coming back to only trail 14-12 at halftime. Shortly after, the Buttonhookers took a 20-12 lead, not capitalizing on the extra point conversion, but they made a mistake, not locating Kenny Bello’s tags straight after on first down and allowing him to break free for the score. They would also miss the extra point, thus leaving the game at 20-18 at this point.

After a back-to-back-to-back interception frenzy, seeing the Hookers, Rebels and again Hookers give the ball away, the Rebels then seized the advantage with a classic Tarlton bomb for the score, but no extra points again would be crucial. 20-24, now to the Rebels.

It was the defence of the newbies that would ultimately win the game though. Two massive holds, would allow them to march down the field and strike with a beautiful fade, putting them at 26-24. In what is rarely seen, Machi then threw the extra point away, as to not give away a potential two point return and they would hold out for an impressive win over their new rivals.

3: Buck That Bronco

Image courtesy of James Brewerton

The Aberdeen Oilcats v Grangemouth Broncos match up divided opinion between the PTF camp.

In what is one of the older rivalries in the flag scene, the Oilcats have owned the bragging rights between the two in the league for the last couple of years. However this wasn’t to be the case this time around, as the Broncos looked mightily impressive on their way to a 35-31 victory.

Callum Woods had a lights out game here against the Oilcats, hauling in four touchdowns and an extra point.

With the shortened schedule for both teams, this is likely to have given the edge as second, if not first seed in the HNC overall.

Both teams have the Glasgow Hornets to play, but with their impressive form, that may lead to some misery. So this win is really the keys to having a potential softer schedule come playoff time.

4: Eagles Wings Clipped

Three years ago, the Leicester Eagles were the dark horses of the national league, riding a crest of a wave to a fourth place at Britbowl.

Yeah, you remember those horrible pub team jerseys that they wore on route don’t ya?

Image courtesy of Danny Seals

Well since then, they’ve lost their way a little. They’ve lost key players from that team in Danny Seals , Alec Simpson and Paul Teague.

The next year, they were only a head-to-head loss away from a return to the playoffs, losing that place to the improving Northants Titans.

Now they seem to be struggling to the extent that getting a win seems hard work. Injuries to key players, attrition and rookies bedding in have all played their part.

Their one win this season has come against the Coventry Cougars Women’s team and that was no given.

Let’s hope one of the oldest clubs in the league can turn it around.

5: Carnegie v Carnegie

Image courtesy of Carnegie Renegades

It’s not quite Kramer v Kramer, but the battle of the two Carnegie teams meant a lot to the folks of Carnegie.

The Steelers took on the Renegades in Grangemouth and would be bested by their rivals in a close 25-20 scoreline. It was a tight game throughout, with the Steelers scoring first, which remained as such until the Renegades levelled it up just before half-time.

The Renegades were down to seven players on the day and the Steelers also missing a key player after an ejection against the Paisley Spartans. Lead by veteran John Guthrie, the Renegades took the lead early in the second half, however the Steelers managed to push back and take the lead after at touchdown and extra point from Chan Phung.

Off the back of an interception, John Guthrie then managed to haul one in from Stuart Anderson throw and put the Renegades ahead at 19-13. Crucially Ross McLean then made a pick 6 and gave the Renegades the scoreline of 25-13. The Steelers, did manage to get a late score from Fraser Reids arm and convert the extra point, but was too late to impact on the final result of 25-20.

The Renegades have gotten off to a decent start this year, with their only losses at the hands of the Glasgow Hornets and Grangemouth Broncos. Not many teams would beat those two, so beating the next level of teams around themselves is key to playoff football.

At 5-3, their win over the Clyde Comets has them sitting in second place in the HNC West, by virtue of the head-to-head 22-20 win back in game week 1. The Steelers however still have some work to do. 4-1 isn’t impressive, especially when that one win was against the lowly Paisley Spartans.

6: Painting The Town Red

At the recent Cardiff game day in the SWC, the Northants Phantoms and Plymouth Buccaneers kit clashed, with both wearing red on the day.

Image courtesy of Howard Goldberg

Neither team elected to take up the offer of bibs from the Hurricanes, so therefore looked like they were ten massively slower versions of the flash running around the field trying to catch a football.

It must have been a quarterbacks nightmare!

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