Opening weekend of the 2016 BAFA Flag season


The 2016 season opening fixtures had a familiar feel about them and sadly the results went the same way as last year.

Chichester Sharks v Reading Lions

The Reading Lions, a 2015 playoff team, opened the season against the Sharks in Chichester and proved to be as difficult an opponent as expected. Like in their 39-32 loss last year, Chichester were competitive throughout the game. However, a flurry of late Lions scores inside the final two minutes gave the Sharks a less than complimentary-looking 48-27 loss. Failure to convert twice on 4th down inside the Lions’ 10 yard line and three turnovers meant the offense were unable to keep pace with the impressive Reading attack.

A highlight for the Sharks was the 3 TD / 1 INT game for Corey Bedford.

Interesting fact #1: This fixture marked the first league game where the Sharks have fielded a mixed team – with Kate Bruinvels a welcome addition to the team. (It’s about time!)

Interesting fact #2: the last time Bergamaschi, Merton, Henderson, Robinson and Steel lined up for the Sharks was 2009! Welcome back Bruno!


Chichester Sharks v London Barracuda

Due to some late fixture juggling following Westcliff Storm withdrawing from the league, our second game of the day was against London Barracuda. Last season, the Sharks convincingly beat the Barracuda 57-13. This time however, it was a much tighter affair.

Struggling to gain momentum, and suffering from a drive stalling at the half-hair line, the Sharks had to settle for a 12-12 scoreline at halftime. A more efficient performance in the second half saw the Sharks take a two touchdown lead off the back of scores by Bedford and Pete Steel. A late score by London brought the game close but there wasn’t time to mount a final drive and the Sharks ran out 26-20 winners.

1 – 1 on the season and plenty to work on.

Player stats are now available.

2015 Opening Weekend: The Sharks Are Back



3 seconds. Just 3 seconds away from an unbeaten opening weekend for the Sharks. Having tied the game against the Lions with 1 minute remaining, we just weren’t able to hold on for one more stop. Still, given the fixtures, coming away with 2 wins and a loss should be considered a positive.

It was great to play competitive football again. Last season seems so far away. That year we over-performed; we’d lost some experienced players; we had injuries and players unavailable; several rookies stepped in; and we still made the playoffs in a difficult division.

This year, the team is stronger; we have numbers, with returning veterans and experienced rookies; but we’re still in that blasted SEC South division.

So an opening weekend set of games against the London Rebels, Reading Lions and Victoria Park Panthers was a great test. And we held our own.


Chichester Sharks 27 – 13 Victoria Park Panthers

Chichester Sharks 32 – 26 London Rebels

Chichester Sharks 32 – 39 Reading Lions

10 Things I Saw This Weekend

  1. Looks like we’ve found another outside speed threat. Rookie WR James Silk used a combination of deep and short passes to rack up EIGHT touchdowns on his debut. The receiving corp is looking pretty stacked this year.
  2. QB Neil Henderson got off to a great start, posting a 14 TD and 2 INT stat line against tough competition. More of that please.
  3. I know what we’ll be working on in the next training session – extra points! Only 7 of 14 converted on Saturday. With these close games, it’s important we take every available point.
  4. That ageing Center out there needs to work on his speed. Three times catch and runs ended on the opposition’s half yard line…
  5. Fitting for point 5 is Toby Primetime Chopra notching up 5 sacks on the day. All the more remarkable given he was on a ski slope half way round the world at the time. Okay, credit to Phil for the sacks, but tut tut on losing your game jersey and borrowing Toby’s. Still better than oversleeping and missing the games like a couple of years ago… that’s progress 😉

    The upcoming Hollywood re-telling of the Elliot Harrison story.

    The upcoming Hollywood re-telling of the Elliot Harrison story.

  6. With James standing out offensively this weekend, the defensive human highlight reel was Elliot Harrison. Lining up at safety, El was all over the field, breaking up pass after pass with physical and acrobatic play. The defensive play of the day for me came in the first game against the Panthers. With the defender beat, the Panthers receiver was a fraction of a second away from pulling in a perfectly thrown ball for a score. Somehow, out of nowhere, the El Condor swooped in and batted it away. No score.
  7. Reading Lions are good. They were strong last year, but this year they seem to have taken it up a level – you don’t get to 5-0 in divisional games otherwise. The good news? We went toe to toe with them for 40 minutes, putting up 32 points on a team that shut out the Rebels last week. It came down to which team had the ball last. Looks like some fun, competitive games ahead for us all.
  8. Don’t count out the London Rebels. They’ve been hit hard by injuries, and its always the most painful at the QB position, but this is a fiercely competitive bunch. Get their injured guys back and this team could run the table the rest of the season.
  9. Toughest division top to bottom in UK flag football? It’s hard to tell without seeing games around the country, but I think we could make a pretty strong case. London, Chichester and Reading finished 1, 2 and 3 respectively last season, all playoff worthy. This year you can also throw in the Victoria Park Panthers – another team that has taken a step up this year, as evident by their win over the London Rebels.
  10. I love the mindset of Sharks players. Play this game long enough and you see plenty of examples of heads dropping, players bickering as their team falls behind in a game. We don’t do that. It’s become our thing. There’s always a chance. If we just string a couple of touchdown drives together, we’ll be back in this thing. You saw it again on Saturday. We were optimistic going into the game against the Rebels after they struggled in a loss to the Panthers. They came out and rocked us with 2 quick touchdowns. Easy to think Here we go again… no, we came back with 4 unanswered scores.

Is it just me or…

…is it weird that Neil gets compared to Tim Tebow in Pulling The Flag’s list of the top 6 flag QBs, goes out and throws 14 TDs opening weekend, THEN 2 days later the real Tim Tebow gets signed by the Philadelphia Eagles?

Did Chip Kelly read the wrong scouting report?



My non-football thought of the week

We really need to put some more thought into the post-match meal. “Just drive and we’ll eat at the first motorway services” is the sort of strategy that lands you with an uninspiring McDonalds meal instead of a tasty box of KFC chicken. Thankfully the drive home was rescued by the return of the Official Chichester Sharks Car Snack ‘Sports Mixture’. A satisfying jaw ache to match the rest of my body.

Sharks opening weekend of BAFA 2014

Jelly Baby Gameplanning

If it seemed the Sharks were a little late to the party that is the 2014 season, then consider it fortunate that some of the team made it at all. As most of the squad stretched in eager anticipation of the Sharks season debut, one carload sat forlornly waiting at the roadside waiting for the arrival of the AA.

Having sat by as other teams around the league rack up the games played, the rest of the Sharks were eager to get on and play, regardless of the suddenly reduced numbers. First up were the reigning Flag Champions, the London Rebels, already off to a 3-0 start, very much mimicking their unbeaten season last year.

Sharks vs Rebels is always an eagerly awaited match up, with a rich tradition of close, competitive games. In the pre-game words of team captain, Toby Chopra, “We have to give it 100% on each and every play, as we know that to win this game it will come down to the very last play of the game”.

Sadly, our first half performance was as pedestrian as the progress of our teammates still sat on the hard shoulder. Unfortunately for us, the Rebels were flying along in the fast lane. London were ruthlessly efficient, with QB Calvin Tarlton finding the holes and picking apart the Defense. It didn’t help that the Offense was spluttering, with two promising drives ending prematurely by interceptions.

By halftime we were in a hole, down 26 – 6, a difficult spot to recover from against a team like London. Fortunately, the fighting spirit of the team is strong and we didn’t crumple. Whilst it wasn’t enough to snatch the win, the Sharks O found it’s feet and were able to put up 4 scores in the 2nd half. The final score was a more respectable, but disappointing, 46 – 32 to London.

A nod to Mike Thompson for his excellent iron man performance during the game, snagging 3 TD passes and picking off an extra point attempt in the endzone. The remaining 2 of Neil Henderson’s 5 TD passes went to Gary Robinson and Pete Busson.

Sharks vs Panthers

The Victoria Park Panthers are new to the BAFA Flag league, so all our knowledge of them came from refereeing their debut versus London just before our match up. It was a rude welcome to the league, going down 54 – 18 to the Rebels. They were clearly in the mood to put things right in their second game, surprising the Sharks with their swift movement downfield and in for the score on their opening drive.

The lead was short-lived however, as the Sharks calmly started racking up scores of their own. Calmly might be overstating it a little though, as the game got a little chippy, with Ref Calvin Tarlton appealing for a few deep breaths from both teams at halftime. Despite that, the game was played in good spirits and, at least from the Sharks perspective, was more fun than the first game against the Rebels.

Mike Thompson continued with the good form, this time pulling in 3 TD passes from Neil Henderson, Gary Robinson added his 2nd of the day, whilst rookie Corey Bedford notched up 2 scores on his debut. The defensive performance overall was better in this game, creating 5 interceptions – 2 for Mike, 2 for Ed Acton and one for rookie James Harris (who had finally managed to drag his car the rest of the way to Wanstead Flats).

Final score was Chichester Sharks 45 – 13 Victoria Park Panthers

So overall a mixed bag for the Sharks. Well done to all that played, especially all the rookies playing in their first league games. Next up is a home tournament In Chichester on Sunday 25th May. Held at Oaklands Park, the games start at 10am and all Sharks players are requested to arrive for 9am.

Go Sharks!


Crunch Time: The Season Finale

Chichester Sharks Team Photo 2013


Chichester Sharks Defender, Ed Acton, gives his account of the final weekend of games in the 2013 season.


So the Sharks home games had arrived and it was also the last day of the regular season, with 3 teams’ playoff hopes resting on the days results. The Sharks needed to win all 3 games to get the last playoff spot, Cardiff Hurricanes also needed to win all 3 and Steel City Knights sat at home praying both teams lost at least 2.


Game 1 Chichester Sharks v Cardiff Hurricanes


Well this game would pretty much decide who would make the trip to Scotland for the playoffs. Both QBs started off slowly as they concentrated on not making any silly mistakes and settled for high % passing with both teams trading scores early on. The second half saw Cardiff’s QB Joe Cotterill throw some nicely placed balls to his top WR Clovis Kamaha – who was a force on defense too, intercepting a ball he batted down off his own blitz and taking it in for a score. This gave the Hurricanes a 2 touchdown lead with around 6 minutes left in the game.


The next 4 minutes saw some great work on Sharks’ D to stop the Hurricanes scoring and 2 amazing TD passes from QB Neil Henderson to WR Phillip Morris to make the game a tie. The Hurricanes had 2 minutes and the ball they drove down the field and took the lead, they missed the XP after some really great D. Sharks had the ball 6 points down with around 30 seconds left. Neil Henderson set to work driving up field and got the O into great position with around 18 seconds left.


There is something about games between these two teams – they’re always close and typically the Sharks have stolen the win right at the whistle. Again, it looked to come down to this last play. Neil Henderson looped a perfectly placed TD pass to WR Ben Lucas to tie the game. The sideline went nuts and the O grabbed the extra point to secure the lead.


The should have been the ball game and a step towards Finals Day for the Sharks. Unfortunately there were 3 seconds left on the clock. Subbing in a player with a big arm at QB, the Hurricanes slung a Hail Mary pass up high and the length of the field. Clovis Kamaha went up above everyone to bring it down and secure the win for the Hurricanes.


Both teams played really well and deserved to be in the playoffs, but this would be the end of the road for the Sharks.


Final Score Sharks 33 Hurricanes 38


Game 2 Chichester Sharks v Basingstoke Zombie Horde


This game in theory did not mean anything in respect to the playoff race, but it was still one Sharks wanted to win. Sharks started off strong putting up points and making stops on the D. With Henderson connecting with MVP WR Mike Thompson several times and Jut Handley getting 2 pick 6s. Horde did put together a couple of nice drives that ended in scores, but it was a convincing if disheartened win.


Final Score Sharks 66 Horde 27


Game 3 Chichester Sharks v Hackney Cougars


The last game of the season and Sharks wanted to finish the season strong. The difference between the two teams was evident early on, with the Sharks racking up points quickly with 6 TDs in the first half and the starting D kept the Cougars in their own half and off the board.


The 2nd half saw the D play O and the O play D, the scores kept coming and the D remained strong. Sharks ran out easy winners, enjoying the last game of the season and watching Mike Thompson break the single season scoring record.


Final Score Sharks 77 Cougars 0


So that’s another season in the books and another winning record for the club. It’s just a shame we didn’t make the Finals.


Speaking of which, the London Rebels were crowned British Champions, following a close final against the Woodham Warriors. Congrats to the Rebels, they can have this one, we’ll see them again next year!


The club would also like to wish good luck to Tomele ‘Beast’ Geciauskas and Ben Lucas, as they move onto pastures new and to welcome John Venables and Richard Spandley to the team. Bring on next season!


Ain’t Half Hot Sun


Chichester Sharks Defender, Ed Acton, gives his account of the 3rd weekend of games in the 2013 season.

So our long awaited trip to Plymouth was here, and it just happened to be the hottest day of the year so far – a toasty 35C with no breeze. Chichester had two games to play back to back in the midday sun and sadly were missing some key players on both sides of the ball.

Game 1 Chichester Sharks v Plymouth Extreme

The heat was sapping the energy of the young and fit, so I don’t need to explain what it was doing to us. Plymouth started the game on offense and nearly caught the Sharks napping with a solid drive all the way down the field. They missed out on the touchdown pass due to the quick hands play of Ed Acton and Tomas Geciauskas, leading to an interception. Early on the Sharks offense struggled, the heat really playing its part in that. Regardless, the ball began to move around and the points began to come.

The second half was a lot different as the Sharks finally adjusted and began to rack up the scores. Neil Henderson was on fire (not literally, but he was a little pink) throwing 7 touchdowns. The Sharks D also began to lock down the Extreme attack, with Elliott Harrison leading with 11 tackles.

Final Score Sharks 54 Extreme 7

Game 2 Chichester Sharks v London Rebels

To say we were tired from the sun would be an understatement, but we still had a job to do. The Rebels were unbeaten starting the day and after losing by 1 point in our first meeting this season, we were looking to get one over on them.

Sharks started on defense and found out quite quickly that the slick Rebels’ O was on form, as they marched swiftly down field on their first drive and in for the score. The  Sharks first chance to answer went nowhere. The Rebels were on the drive again and looked solid, but a turn of luck gave Elliott Harrison a pick and gave the Sharks another go on offense. This time Neil Henderson connected on a perfectly timed pass to the Beast Geciauskas, which he took straight to the endzone.

The second half was where the Rebels found a little bit extra in the tank on this very hot day. Despite trying to keep it close and play their own game, the Sharks couldn’t stop London from pulling away with a couple of quick scores. The Sharks still played with heart but were lacking any more juice and big plays to mount a comeback.

Final Score Sharks 15 Rebels 33

Well done to all the players (and our spectators!) who made the long trip down to Plymouth. Everyone gave it there all and played well. A few notable stats to share:

  • Neil threw 10 TDs and 7 XP
  • Tomas caught 6 TDs
  • Ed had 17 tackles
  • Elliott had 15 tackles

Full season player stats can be found here.

The photo in this post was taken by Zita Racz. More great photos from Zita taken on the day can be viewed here on Facebook.

Clean Sweep For Sharks in Basingstoke

Chichester Sharks Defender, Ed Acton, gives his account of the 2nd weekend of games in the 2013 season.

The Chichester Sharks made a short journey up the road to Basingstoke on Sunday to play the next 3 games of the 2013 season. We would be without Jut Handley due a dislocated finger in the training session a week before, so we set about our first match against the Hackney Cougars with 8 players.

Game 1 – Chichester Sharks v Hackney Cougars

The previous 2 times the Sharks had played the Cougars we had lost, so we wanted to get out the gate early and set the tone. This is exactly what happened on the first play of the game, as QB Neil Henderson completed a short dump off pass to Phil Morris (who had managed to get out of bed this time) who ran it the length of the field for the first score. Henderson went onto spread the ball around the park and put up a lead, with the Cougars only managing to break through the Sharks stout D on 2 occasions. The Game finished Sharks 47 Cougars 13.

Next up a relaxing lunch break and a game off. Well that’s what we thought, it turns out after filling our faces and feeling a little bloated that we were indeed going straight back into a game with the Horde.

Game 2 – Chichester Sharks v Basingstoke Zombie Horde

So, full of lunch we headed back onto the field to play. The Sharks and Horde have a good history and have played many close games over the last 3 years. This however, turned out very different. With an almost identical play, Henderson dumped the ball of to Morris and he ran the length of the field for the opening score. Then it was time for the Sharks D to show what it could do. Racking up 7 interceptions it shut down Basingstoke’s aerial attack and made it hard for the Horde’s QB and WRs all game. The offense was flowing nicely putting up points on nearly every drive. It was a dominant performance both sides of the ball and finished Sharks 61 Horde 0.

Straight up next were Plymouth Extreme, who in their earlier games had looked much improved from the side that played last year.

Game 3 – Chichester Sharks v Plymouth Extreme

You don’t need to be a mind reader to work out what the Sharks first play on offense was – Henderson dumped it off to Morris who looked like he was going to go to the house again. Alas no, he was going so quick he fell over his own feet. This did not change the mind set from the first 2 games – the Sharks offense came out punching and put quick scores on the board. The D had another massive game, shutting Plymouth down with Pete Busson recording 5 sacks. This game was much the same as our last with Chichester dominant both sides of the ball and finished Sharks 66 Extreme 6.

A great road trip and pretty much mistake free set of games from the Sharks.

Some notable performances from the 3 games:

  • Neil Henderson threw 24 touchdown passes and only 1 interception
  • 3 players threw touchdowns – Henderson, Gary Robinson and Ed Acton
  • 14 sacks by the team, including 1 for a safety
  • Pete Busson had 5 sacks himself
  • 12 interceptions by the team – 5 by Acton and 4 by Mike Thompson
  • 8 touchdowns for Mike Thompson and 6 by Phil Morris
  • 20 tackles by Acton

Next up a long old drive down to Plymouth to play the Extreme and the Rebels in July.

Tough 3 Way Battle To Kick Off The 2013 Season

Chichester Sharks Defender, Ed Acton, gives his account of the opening weekend games of the 2013 season.

This is what we had been training for all through winter, the inaugural games of the 2013 BAFA Flag Football season. The journey would take us to the home of the London Rebels to face stiff competition – the Rebels and the new look Welsh team, the Cardiff Hurricanes. After the fun and excitement of checking everybody’s pictures on the rosters, it was time to get down to business.

Game 1 Hurricanes v Rebels

The game started off slowly, as each team got a feel for each other, and before we knew it halftime was here and it was scoreless. The second half started much the same as the first, with each team giving up turnovers on offense. The deadlock was broken when the Hurricanes QB threw a great post pattern pass to the WR for the first score of the game.Londonthen got into gear and scored a TD of their own but missed the XP leaving the score 7-6 toCardiffwith a minute and a half left on the clock. All Cardiff needed to do was run out the clock and avoid turning over the ball. Unfortunately, the second pass of the drive was an interception that was run back for a TD. It was all over – Rebels 13 Hurricanes 7

Game 2 Rebels v Sharks

So the Sharks only had 8 players due to one WR oversleeping and missing his lift – we won’t mention any names to save embarrassment. The Sharks started on offense, mainly made up by defensive regulars due to Phil Morris sleeping in. And what a start it was, as Neil Henderson threw a long pass to Mike Thompson, which he took all the way for the opening score. The Rebels were quick to respond, working the ball up the field on their first drive and came away with a score of their own. The two teams were very evenly matched, with the Sharks pulling ahead 20-14 late in the game following scores by Gary Robinson and a second from Thompson.

In the final few minutes of the game, the Rebels were driving. After a questionable officiating decision moved London into scoring range, the Rebels managed to get into the end zone and convert the XP to take a 21-20  lead, leaving the Sharks just 25 seconds to work a miracle. The Sharks marched right up the field. It would come down to one last play in the final seconds….the ball was snapped, but the Rebels’ blitz made it very difficult for Neil to make a pass. Sadly it fell incomplete and the game ended. Final Score Rebels 21 Sharks 20.

Game 3 Sharks v Hurricanes

The final game of the day was upon us and the Sharks were up against the Cardiff Hurricanes. The game played out much like a mash up of the first 2 games with Sharks and Hurricanes going toe to toe on scoring all the way up to the final two minutes (Sharks’ scores from Thompson (x2) and Justin Handley). With the Hurricanes leading 21-19, the Sharks had the ball and looked to be driving for a winning score. Sadly, this would not be the case as the Hurricanes D held strong and Sharks turned the ball over on downs just shy of the endzone.

So it came down to the same scenario as Game 1, the Hurricanes had the lead and the ball and an opportunity to run down the final 20 seconds off the clock. The ball was snapped but the Hurricanes’ QB abandoned the called run play when he saw a chance to end the game with a quick pass.  He didn’t count on Elliott Harrison turning into a superhero and plucking the ball out of the air for the interception. Requiring a score to win, Elliott needed to run the 10 yards back to the Hurricanes endzone. In a blink of an eye, dodging 3 players on the way, Elliott made it in for the score and the Sharks were victorious. Final score Sharks 25 Hurricanes 21

A great day and three really good hard fought games, the Southern Conference will be a tough one this year. Next stop Basingstoke in June to play the Horde and Plymouth Extreme.

A short Finals Day

The Sharks 2012 season came to an end in the first round of Finals Day, falling to the Basingstoke Zombie Horde in a closely fought contest.

London Rebels went on to represent the Southern Conference in the Finals playing the forever unbeaten Kirkcaldy Bulls in their final match before disbanding. Fittingly, the Bulls romped to another title in a convincing victory over the Rebels.

On to next season!

Sharks headed to Finals Day

The Chichester Sharks will be heading to Sheffield this weekend to compete in the 2012 Flag Finals.

When I last posted news (yes I know, it has been a long time) the Sharks were 5-3 and in contention for one of the two playoff spots (Two losses to Basingstoke more or less ruled us out of grabbing the group top spot and automatic qualification).

As a lot of time has passed since then (yes, I know), here is a quick summary of how the rest of the season unfolded:

Fixtures in Basingstoke (June 24th)…

Chichester Sharks 66 – 18 Aylesbury Spartans

Summary: new team, nice bunch, good banter, pink shirts, TD passes aplenty

Chichester Sharks 54 – 13 Coventry Jets

Summary: old rivalry, slow start, 2nd half dominance, TD passes aplenty

Chichester Sharks 48 – 0 Leicester Eagles

Summary: another old rivalry, outstanding defensive performance, TD passes aplenty

Overall, it was an outstanding team performance, with the results going the way you’d expect based on form. Both sides of the ball did very well, resulting in hand ache for Neil recording all the personal player stats. Sharks moved to 8-3 on the season.

Fixtures in Chichester (July 22nd)…

Chichester Sharks 1 – 0 London Blitz

Summary: Blitz forfeited the game, leaving the Sharks in a position of needing to win just 1 of their remaining two games.

Chichester Sharks 46 – 0 Essex Showboats

Summary: Scoring early, tempers flairing, TDs aplenty, smiles that said ‘We’re in the Playoffs’

Chichester Sharks 32 – 40 London Rebels

Summary: boo, rebels trying to rain on our parade, close 1st half, comeback late, not quite enough


So, Sharks finish the season at 10-4 and now we’re off to Sheffield! GO SHARKS!!

Sharks move step closer to playoffs

In yet another wet day in the Flag ‘Summer‘ league, the Chichester Sharks secured an important victory and came very close to nabbing another.

Chichester started the day at 4-2 and realistically in the race for one of the two wildcard spots within the Southern Conference. Having lost to Basingstoke twice, it would require a number of unexpected losses by the Horde for the Sharks to claim the top spot.

That meant that games against the other wildcard contending teams – currently the Steel City Knights and the Essex Showboats – would be crucial. The first of those – against the Knights – came on a very wet day in Coventry on Saturday.

It was an unusual day, in that for the first time in many, many years, Neil Henderson was not at QB for the Sharks. Unavailable on the day, he was replaced in the line up by Justin Handley.

First up was a game against Woodham Warriors. The conditions were poor, with a consistent heavy rain impacting the play of both teams. The Offenses struggled the most, with both teams struggling to complete drives. To compound it, the Sharks first score on the board was wiped out by penalty.

The Warriors short, efficient passing game eventually broke the deadlock, putting up a score before the half. The Sharks O hit a TD in reply (Handley to Mike Thompson), but sloppy receiving play ended any chance of  building a lead.

The Sharks came out strong after the break, snatching the lead from the Warriors on a 2nd TD pass to Thompson. The D was playing extremely well – Toby Chopra had 3 sacks in the game and Tomele Geciauskas 2 – but eventually Woodham found the endzone for a 13-12 lead.

With little time left in the game, the Sharks were unable to string together a final winning drive. The Warriors closed out the game with a late score to seal the 20-12 victory.

Despite the loss it was a very strong performance by the Sharks, coming close to upsetting the favourites with a make-shift offense.

Next up was the important game against the Steel City Knights. Chichester had never played against the Knights nor seen them in action. Their results to date in the league spoke for themselves, however, and it was clear that being ‘new’ did not mean they were uncompetitive.

This was to be no score-fest, as the rain made play very difficult. The teams exchanged several unsuccessful drives, before the stalemate was broken on an unusual play. On a hook to the left of the field, the slippery ball bounced off the hands of Chichester’s Pete Busson and into the arms of Center Gary Robinson who took it in for the score.

The Knights were struggling to move the ball against the rain and Sharks defense, but managed to break the goal line on a strong drive before the half, setting the score at 6-6 at the half.

As the second half progressed, the players could have been forgiven to be happy with a draw (and to find somewhere warm and dry). Little was working offensively. With time ticking away, Handley went back to a play designed to attack a weakness identified in the first half (which despite repeated attempts couldn’t be capitalised on). Sending the Center on a slant and go up the left, Handley lofted a perfectly timed pass over the head of the defender and into the hands (okay, technically it was the ear) of Robinson. Chichester couldn’t convert the extra point and so led 12-6 inside the 2 minute warning and the ball now in the Knights’ hands.

All day the Knights had been targeting their athletic #1 receiver and it was clear where the ball was going on this final drive. Each play sent him medium or long and each time Mike Thompson, playing Man, stuck to him like glue and batted the ball away. 4 downs later, the Sharks had their victory and a crucial tiebreaker in the playoff race.

Well done to all players who competed on Saturday – it was a great team effort. A special nod, however, to Jut for stepping up and playing QB and also to Mike, who played both ways and made so many plays to keep us in games and secure the victory.

Next up on Sunday: Coventry Jets, Leicester Eagles and Aylesbury Spartans

See all the Sharks results this year

Check out all the player stats