Gameday – Sunday 1 May
East Kilbride Pirates vs Tamworth Phoenix
The Pirates rivalry with the Tamworth Phoenix presents without a doubt the premier battle on the team’s annual schedule. The two first met in the 2009 playoffs where the Pirates won the semi-final and went on to lost in the Division 1 final to the London Cobras.
The Midlands club got their revenge the following year when the two teams met in the Division 1 final and Tamworth secured promotion to the Premier Division, followed by the Pirates in 2011.
Since that time, the teams have met six time in the regular season, with Pirates holding a 4-2 advantage in those fixtures, however last year the Phoenix picked up a 32-27 home win in June, taking the early momentum in Premier North. A freak loss to the Sheffield Predators put a significant dent in the Phoenix chances of coming out on top and securing #1 seed in the north, but the title was still theirs to lose when they visited Hamilton Rugby Club in August.
The Pirates squeaked out a 21-14 win in a nailbiter, meaning that the Scottish side were able to secure their seventh straight conference title, pipping Tamworth to the post on a points difference of two across the two games!
This game is the Phoenix’s first of the season, however they did have a scrimmage with the Filton Pride in Bristol which allowed them to knock off the rust. The Pirates come into the game having already defeated the Lancashire Wolverines in their season opener, maintaining a shutout despite stuttering on offense.
They will look for more of the same from their defensive unit, and a stronger offensive performance to overcome a fast, physical, well-drilled Tamworth team.
Photo courtesy Duncan Gray – see more great photos and purchase your favourites at Duncolm Photography
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