Pirates fall short against Phoenix

June 14th, 2016

Tamworth Phoenix 15 East Kilbride Pirates 13

P1320117Despite putting in a performance more reminiscent of years past, the Pirates just came up short in their bid to keep the defence of their title alive. Instead it was challengers to the throne Tamworth who took the victory, leaving East Kilbride to concentrate on securing second spot and a play off place.

It was the home side who were first on the scoreboard. Just as their opening drive seemed to have run out of juice, they converted on 3rd-and-21 from their own 17 yard line. Blown coverage in the Pirates’ backfield s aw a pass from Patrick Daley to Will Hussey turn into a 73-yard touchdown. Alex Lenkowski’s conversion attempt was blocked, leaving the Phoenix 6-0 ahead early in the encounter.

East Kilbride responded immediately, and following pass completions by Neil Baptie to Jamie McLaughlin and Kevin Reynolds, he again hit McLaughlin for a 50-yard TD. Steven Kane tagged on the extra point to put the Pirates narrowly ahead 7-6. Later in the period Tamworth had the opportunity to regain the lead, but a 35-yard field goal attempt by Lenkowski drifted wide right of the posts.

The second period saw defenses in control, and while Phoenix enjoyed the better field position, they were unable to capitalise on it. As the half drew to a close, Baptie tried one last deep pass only to be picked off at the Tamworth 12-yard line as time ran out.

The same pattern continued in the third quarter with both punters seeing plenty of action. Late in the quarter Tamworth did get some momentum going, but again appeared to have stalled when they faced a 4th-and-long situation. However, undaunted by his earlier failures, Lenkowski stepped up and hit a perfect 45-yard field goal to regain the advantage for his side, who now led 9-7.

P1320179A Pirates’ punt on the last play of the third quarter meant that Phoenix took over near midfield to start the final period. Six plays later, running back Elliott Walters scored from 7 yards, and while Lenkowski’s PAT attempt was blocked once more, their lead had stretched to 15-7. The teams then traded interceptions, with Jimmy McIntosh coming up trumps for the visitors. The Pirates then put together their longest drive of the day before Adam Kyle ran the ball home from 4 yards out. East Kilbride opted to go for the 2-point conversion to tie the scores, but Kyle was held up just inches short of the goal line.

With time running out, EK had one last chance to win the game. A high snap on 3rd Down meant a deep pass was the only call on 4th. Baptie’s “Hail Mary” attempt was batted to the ground by the Tamworth cornerback, allowing them to give a loud sigh of relief then take a knee to end the game.

The Pirates take a break from League duty this week as they play host to a touring American College side. They take on the North Central College Cardinals (NCAA Div III) on Sunday June 19th. With their normal home of Hamilton Rugby Club being unavailable, this game is taking place at Burnbrae in Milngavie, home to West of Scotland Rugby Club. The venue provides covered seating and there will be hot food and bar facilities available. Kick off is at 4pm and admission is £5 (U16’s go free) including programme. There will also be fundraising activities in aid of PURA Syndrome via a tombola and bake sale.

Game report by Bill Campbell


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