Sapphire D1 North – Pirates home tournament review

February 3rd, 2020

The BAFA Sapphire Series came north of the border on Saturday, as the EK Pirates Women’s contact team hosted the second tournament of the D1 North season at Toryglen, Glasgow.  The games were played in the imposing shadow of Hampden Park, Scotland’s National Stadium.  And EKPW, as the only current women’s contact team in the country, were hoping to carry Scottish national pride and indeed impose themselves on the visitors from England.

Pirates vs Chargers

First up for the hosts were Leeds Carnegie Chargers, who narrowly defeated the Pirates back in December, in a nail-biter of a game.  This rematch again started with nothing to separate the sides, with quick 4 and outs on both team’s two opening drives.  Defenses were controlling the action with Ashleigh Bell and Katie McLachlan putting in some telling tackles for the Pirates.

On Leeds next drive, hard work from Pirates’ Amy Oliver and Hilary Mullholland contained the run, so the Charger’s QB tried the aerial route.  A short completion to the receiver, who then broke a couple of tackles, took the ball down to the 4-yard line and gave them a new set of downs.

They only needed two of those downs as the QB connected with number 48 for the Charger’s for the opening TD.  EKPW 0-6 Leeds.

This seemed to unnerve the Pirates and on their next drive a bad snap on 4th down led to the Chargers downing QB Nicole Smith in her own endzone for a safety.  The half ended EKPW 0-8 Leeds.

Head Coach Claire Cochrane rallied her roster at the break and her offense started to gain some yardage on the ground with some strong running from McLachlan and Bell.  Unfortunately, QB Smith was unable to complete a pass on 4th down and Leeds got the ball back.

The Chargers wasted no time and on the first play of their drive, some very strong running of their own took the ball the full length of the field to find paydirt.  An extra 2 points extended their lead to EKPW 0 – 16 Leeds.

On their next drive, the Pirates woes continued on offense with Smith being sacked twice and just managing to avoid another safety by scrambling out her endzone in time.

The Chargers had some momentum now and pushed hard for another score.  Some good running gained them a new set of downs, but the Pirates’ D got a second wind in their sails and back-to-back sacks from McLachlan and Aimee Wilson shut them down – giving the ball back to their offense.

With the two-minute warning looming, EKPW tried desperately to get

something out the game.  Regrettably, on 3rd down a costly fumble was picked up by a Chargers linebacker who took it in for the score. The extra points were good, and the score stood at EKPW 0 – 24 Leeds.

EKPW had one last drive to try to give their supporters something to cheer.  McLachan, who was having a stand-out game on both sides of the ball, went in as running-back and broke several tackles to get first down.  On her next carry, again she was again elusive but was stopped just short for the score as the game ended.  EKPW 0 – 24 Leeds.

Pirates vs Steelers

The second game for the Pirates brought them up against the newly promoted Teeside Steelers.  The teams didn’t face each other in the opening tournament, so this was a voyage into unchartered waters for the women from East Kilbride.  As they were soon to find out however, this was not going to be a pleasure cruise by any means!

EKPW had the opening possession, but a penalty flag and a couple of incomplete passes led to a quick 4 and out.

Teeside’s QB Rachael Tumelty also went to the air on her first two downs – but was given little time to compose herself thanks to strong pressure from EKP’s Wilson.  It was GB Lion Wilson that again stopped the run on 3rd down and it looked like Pirate’s were going to prevent the Steelers putting points on the board.

That hope was short-lived, as a well worked reverse on 4th down, saw no.2, Taylor show a clean pair of heels to the Pirates secondary and run the full length of the field for the score.  EKPW 0 – 6 Teeside.

From there it turned into the Tumelty and Taylor show for the Steelers.  The QB found her receiver for a TD on only the 2nd play of their next possession and then kept the ball to run in the 2 extra points herself.  EKPW 0 – 14 Teeside.

After another quick turnover on downs – Teeside’s Tumelty kept the ball again on first down and showed her speed to take it all the way to the house.  EKPW 0 – 20 Teeside.

They were obviously well-drilled on offense, but now it was their D’s turn to sparkle.  Just on the 2-minute warning – DB, number 32 picked off a Smith pass and took it in for the score.  Two plays later and number 31 for Teeside went one better and pulled in a ridiculous one-handed interception and ran in for the TD.

The Steelers were now showing their metal and a fumble recovery led to another rushing touchdown to add the Pirates’ pain, and the half ended EKPW 0 – 40 Teeside.

After the break, Teeside’s Tumelty and Taylor swapped roles, and the T’n’T partnership again exploded into action with QB Taylor finding Tumelty for a long reception to set up another TD. EKPW 0 – 48 Teeside.

The Pirates were well and truly in stormy seas at this point and couldn’t find an answer to the onslaught of the women from the North East.  Again, the Steelers went to their favoured reverse play and Tumelty scored to extend their lead to 56 points.

Pirates’ QB Smith tried in vain to get the ball moving on the deck and the Steelers once again had it in their grasp.

It was at this point EKP’s Georgie Pickford decided enough was enough.  All the razzle-dazzle of the stylish Steeler’s razor-sharp trick-plays had got to her and she burst through their O-line like a blunt instrument to sack the QB for a safety.  Points onboard for the Pirates. EKPW 2 – 56 Teeside.

The game finished with yet another reverse play for Teeside, this time of the fake variety and the runner took the ball into the endzone.  The final score EKPW 2 – 62 Teeside.

Other scores in the tournament:

Leeds Carnegie Chargers 26 – 6 Manchester Titans
Teeside Steelers 18 – 6 Manchester Titans

HC Cochrane will take her Pirates down to Teeside on Saturday 15 February to meet the same two opponents in the next tournament in the Sapphire Series.  Here’s hoping the team can turn around their fortunes in the North East.

Report by Kerr Girvan
Photos courtesy Duncan Gray, Duncolm Photography


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