Gameday – Sunday 10 April
East Kilbride Pirates vs Lancashire Wolverines
When the Wolverines travel to Hamilton to open the 2016 season against the Pirates, it will be the tenth meeting of the teams. The Pirates hold a 7-2 head-to-head record, but the complexion of the rivalry has changed dramatically over the last 12 months.
The first meeting between the sides was all the way back in 1993, with the Wolverines coming out on top 44-0 and the teams then didn’t meet again for nine years. From 2002-2014, the Pirates recorded a run of six straight victories, shutting out the Wolverines four times and holding them to a touchdown in each of the other two fixtures, with the winning margin never closer than 32!
That dominance perhaps explains the story of last season, where the Pirates travelled to Blackburn and received an opening-day shock, losing 31-28; their first loss to the Wolverines in almost 22 years! It was a scrappy performance from the Pirates, underpinned by complacency and an expectation of an easy win, and had it not be for some other odd results across the conference throughout the summer, it could have been the result that cost them their Premier North crown.
As it was, the Pirates lost again in June to the Tamworth Phoenix, making 2015 the first time the team had lost two regular season fixtures since 2008! It took some late-season heroics at home against the Wolverines and Phoenix, with the Pirates winning by six and seven points respectively, to salvage the conference title (their seventh in a row) and make the playoffs.
This year, with some big personnel changes in the team, particularly on Offense and with Head Coach Ross Templeton re-taking the reins of the Defense, the team will be looking to ensure that the 100% home record against the Wolverines remains, and Fortress Hamilton, where the Pirates have never lost a regular season fixture in 35 attemps, will remain intact and help them get the season off to the right start.
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