Air Today, Gone Tomorrow

April 24th, 2024


Newcastle Vikings 23 – East Kilbride Pirates 6

After both teams started with wins in their first games, the Pirates travelled to face a Newcastle side, recently promoted to the Premier Division. To bolster their squad, the Vikings had added a couple of US players from the BUCS league and the pairing of QB Michael Ruisch and receiver Terrell Brown would prove to be a thorn in the Pirates’ side throughout the encounter.

EK kicked off and immediately forced a 3-and-out on Newcastle. Similarly, the first Pirates’ drive also eventually ended with a punt. A 7-play drive ensued in which Ruisch completed 5 of 7 passes, including a 27 yarder to Ross Conley for the go ahead TD. Jacob Shotton slotted the PAT, putting the Vikings ahead by 7-0. Both teams then traded possessions until Newcastle manoeuvred themselves into a 1st and goal at the Pirates 2-yard line late in the quarter.


The visiting defence stood strong as the tie moved into the second period, forcing the Vikings to settle for a 22-yard Field Goal by Shotton. Later in the period, a Pirates’ drive came to a sudden halt when a Neil Baptie pass was intercepted and returned to the EK 27. The price for that error was paid immediately as Ruisch connected with Brown for the second TD of the day. Shotton again converted to make the score 17-0 and it remained that way until the break.

In a tight third quarter, both defences were on top until midway through the period. Newcastle added a further Field Goal, Shotton making good from 41 yards on this occasion. East Kilbride eventually got on the scoreboard with the last play of the quarter. James Williams, in his first appearance for the Pirates, picked off a wayward pass and returned it 39 yards for a TD. Without a recognised kicker on the day, EK went for the 2PAT but were unsuccessful.

Ruisch, who had sat out the third quarter, was back in for the fourth, but despite regular connections to Brown, the Pirates defence kept their opponents at bay, with only a third Shotton FG (30 yards) being added to the score.


Unsurprisingly, the Pirates’ MVP’s on the day both came on Defence. Linebacker Ryan Strachan for his determined tackling which helped keep the Vikings’ running game in check and Lineman Mark Stewart for continually bringing the pressure off the edge.

The Pirates take a break from league football this weekend when they host touring NCAA Division III side Alma Scots. The Scots, from Michigan, had a very successful year in 2023 and this marks the start of their preparations for the 2024 campaign. They will be led by Head Coach Jason Couch who plans to be wearing a kilt on the sidelines. It all kicks off at 1:30 on Saturday 27th at GHA Rugby Club in Giffnock.

Report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtesy Duncolm Sports Photography. You can find a full gallery here.


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