Old Foes Share The Spoils

June 25th, 2024

East Kilbride Pirates 21 – Tamworth Phoenix 21

Tamworth have been regular opponents for East Kilbride over the years and they arrived on this occasion with a familiar face at the helm, former Pirates’ O-Lineman Neale McMaster having been appointed as Head Coach for the Phoenix this year.

EK received the opening kick off and immediately set about establishing their ground game. The initial drive moved deep into Phoenix territory before an untimely fumble brought their progress to an end. The Pirates soon had the ball back though as the visitors went 3-and-out. Another drive into Tamworth’s red zone concluded with a 35-yard Field Goal attempt. However an untidy snap resulted in Rohan Chatterjee’s attempt falling short. Phoenix were again forced to punt though, and this time the kick was charged down by Rob Hayes and recovered by Fraser Keil. Once more the Pirates had to settle for the FG attempt, but this time Chatterjee slotted the ball home for 3 points.With the 1st Quarter drawing to a close, Tamworth still could not generate any offence and soon recalled their punting team. They must have had a sense of déjà vu as Hayes blocked the kick which this time rebounded into the hands of Ryan Strachan and he returned it 12 yards for the TD. A high snap on the conversion attempt led to holder Scott McKigen unsuccessfully trying to pass for the 2PAT.

The second period continued in much the same vein, with the Pirates running the ball well, but failing to capitalise on their possession. Late in the half, Jordan McSorley picked off a wayward pass near midfield and returned it to the Tamworth 24-yard line. A Cammy Dunn pass to Fraser McDonald was ruled down at the 1-yard line, and from there Dunn ran the ball in for the TD as time expired. The 2PAT again came up short, leaving EKP 15-0 ahead at the break.

The third quarter started with Tamworth returning the opening KO 64 yards for a touchdown. They also added the PAT to effectively halve the Pirates’ advantage. It also seemed to breathe life into the Phoenix, who played like a different side in the second half. Indeed, it was they who were next on the scoreboard, when midway through the period, they scored on an 11-yard run with the PAT added on, and from a comfortable lead at the interval, EKP were now only 1 point ahead as the game moved into the final quarter.

That narrow advantage disappeared as the visitors went ahead for the first time on the back of a 53-yard catch and run. The successful PAT left the Pirates trailing by 6, and this was still the position as the game moved inside the 2-Minute Warning. East Kilbride used up all their Time Outs to get the ball back and that paid dividends when a powerful 19-yard run by Mark Stewart tied up the scores. Unfortunately, Chatterjee’s PAT attempt was blocked, leaving the teams tied on 21. Unbelievably, Tamworth chose to pass on 1st Down and were immediately picked off by James Williams. EK managed to get two plays off, but time expired as they tried to get a third away.

MVP on the day was Mark Stewart who not only put in a strong shift at RB, punishing anyone who tried to tackle him, but also played on the Defensive side of the ball as well.

The Pirates next game is not until July 14th when they host Manchester Titans at GHA Rugby Club and they have a lot of work to do between now and then.

Report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtesy Duncolm Sports Photography – you can find a full gallery here



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