Britbowl u17 National Championship report

August 25th, 2017

Having secured the Scottish Divisional Title, the Pirates’ U17 side headed to Sheffield to see if they could also retain their British Championship crown.

First up was Leeds Academy Assassins in the Quarter Final. EK were quick out of the blocks, and after forcing Leeds to go 4-and-out on their first drive, the Pirates quickly took the lead on a Scott McKigen pass to Paul Ravey. McKigen also connected with Jack Cochrane on the 2PAT to extend the lead to 8-0. EKP’s second drive brought a second TD with Cochrane running the ball home for an unconverted touchdown. Leeds reply lasted just 2 plays before a Declan Kelly interception regained possession. On the next play McKigen again found Ravey with a scoring pass to extend the lead to 19-0. Before half time East Kilbride added another 2 TD’s. McKigen passed to Matt Dyer for both a TD and then the 2PAT. Kelly hauled in another pick, setting up McKigen to notch his 4th touchdown of the half, this time to Cochrane. With the 2PAT failing, the Pirates led 32-0 at the interval. After the restart, with one eye on the games ahead, East Kilbride rotated their players. This allowed Leeds back into the game, and midway through the period they scored on a long 4th Down run. An interception soon got the ball back for the Assassins, and after moving into Pirates’ territory they notched a second rushing TD. However, EKP held on to run out convincing winners.

The Semi Final was to be a much tougher affair as Manchester Titans South provided stern opposition. The game started in exactly the same way as the first. Manchester held to 4-and-out then Scott McKigen passing to Paul Ravey to open the scoring. The 2PAT was run home by Declan Kelly to make it 8-0. Any thoughts of a rerun of Game 1 were quickly dispelled when the Titans were next to score with a short pass. They then intercepted McKigen of the first play after the turn around, and soon added a second passing TD to take a12-8 lead. However, with just 48 seconds left in the half, Jack Cochrane ripped off one of his trademark runs to regain the lead just before half time. After the interval both defences were on top with both offences struggling to make a First Down. Eventually Cochrane broke another long run and then also ran in the extra points to give the Pirates some breathing space as the defence continued to close things down.

The Final was a repeat of the 2016 contest, with the Pirates facing up to Cobham Cougars Blue out for revenge. Yet again EKP started quickly. A Jack Cochrane interception halted Cobham’s opening drive. He then switched to offence where he reeled in Scott McKigen’s pass for the go ahead TD. It was the Cougars who scored next with a passing TD and PAT. Then after an interception of McKigen, they added a rushing TD and PAT to take a 14-6 lead to half time. A second pick of McKigen early in the second half allowed Cobham to increase their lead following a strong run by their big running back. Undaunted, the Pirates bounced back and McKigen found Ben Gallagher with a further scoring pass. The to and fro continued and Cobham emphasised their advantage when the running back took the hand off, only to pass to their QB who gleefully ran the ball home.

With time now against them, EK continued to fight and narrowed the lead to one score. McKigen and Gallagher was again a fruitful partnership, adding both a TD and the 2PAT to make the score 20-27. They now had to prevent Cobham from making a first down and hope that there was still enough time on the clock for one last hurrah. The game came down to 4th-and-inches. The Cougars running back was always getting the ball and the Pirates defence were waiting for him. There was a massive collision and the Cobham player made just enough progress to see the nose of the ball cross the gain line, allowing his team to take a knee to end the game.

So despite a valiant effort, the Pirates failed to retain their title by the narrowest of margins. There was no shame however in losing out to a very good Cobham side who were worthy Champions on the day.

Report by Bill Campbell


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