Sharks Go 7 – 1
Well done everyone that played today in Leicester – it was an excellent performance and beating both the Jets and the Eagles has put us in a great position in the playoff race.
Both Leicester and Coventry were unbeaten before today, so it was essential we came away with the wins.
Sharks 47 – 18 Jets
Sharks 35 – 28 Eagles
Jets 26 – 41 Eagles
Below are the match reports I’ve submitted to the league. Sorry I couldn’t mention everyone – it’s hard to condense 80 minutes of football into a few paragraphs. Suffice to say, our 2 victories were a total team effort. Well done to all that played defense, those that played offense and also to Coach Kirby (with assists from Neil and Dave) for excellent play calling.
I’ll have a go at uploading the video over the next few of days, along with the player stats and league tables. As usual, please chip in with your comments.
In a series of big match-ups that will likely have playoff implications, it was the Chichester Sharks that emerged victorious in Leicester on Sunday.
With both the Coventry Jets and the Leicester Eagles started the day with unbeaten records and the Sharks having only dropped one to the Mayhem, it was key for all teams to come away with the wins.
Chichester Sharks 47 – 18 Coventry Jets
The day started with Chichester taking on Flag new boys, Coventry. The Sharks experience showed from the outset, ending the Jets first drive with an interception by Ricardo Moratalla. The Sharks offense came out strong, with QB Neil Henderson firing long touchdown passes to Jon Steele-Mills and Tom Newbery and a short shovel pass TD to Andy Leane.
Already in a hole, the Jets hit back with a long TD pass from Marcus Gambrill, but failed to convert the PAT. Keen to halt the Jets momentum, the Sharks drove downfield and Henderson floated a jump ball to the corner of the endzone, which a leaping Andy Leane snagged for his 2nd TD of the day.
Behind 27-6 at the half, things didn’t improve for Coventry. Chichester put up two more scores from Henderson to Pete Steel and Sean Wasley to put the game beyond doubt. There were 2 late scores from Coventry, before the Sharks closed the game out with a final TD to Tom Newbery.
Chichester Sharks 35 – 28 Leicester Eagles
Long time rivals from the ESFL, these two teams had met 17 times previously, with the Eagles holding a narrow 9-8 lead in the series. It’s been a great rivalry, full of close and exciting games. Sunday was to be no different.
Aware of the importance of beating the Eagles, the Sharks D held firm and stopped an impressive opening drive inside the red zone.
Shifting receivers at the line of scrimmage momentarily caught the Leicester defense out of position, enabling Henderson to hit a wide open Steele-Mills on a deep ball for the opening score. Leicester hit back immediately finding holes in the Sharks D. On the 3rd play of the drive, QB Craig Broughton found his receiver open in the endzone for the score.
Despite constant pressure from a blitzing Rich Manning, Henderson was able to find his targets in the short game, before hitting Newbery deep for another score. Both defenses then dug deep, shutting down the offenses on the next few series. Then just before the end of the half, Henderson found Pete Steel streaking across the middle, who went in untouched for the score.
Despite being 21-7 down at the half, the Eagles demonstrated their traditional tenacity and hit back hard. Broughton drove his team downfield, dinking and dunking, before hitting his receiver for a 5 yard score. The Sharks’ offense stalled on its next drive, and it took just one play to tie up the score, as a Leicester receiver took a short dump pass the length of the field for the TD.
As the clocked ticked down, the tension rose. The teams exchanged scores once more to leave the game tied at 28-28 at the two minute warning.
Conscious of the clock, Henderson and his receivers worked the sidelines, progressing swiftly down the field. Just over the halfway line, Andy Leane caught a short pass and twisted and turned his way through the Eagles defense, before running in for the final score.
Leicester Eagles 41 – 26 Coventry Jets
The last game saw the two local rivals square off, eager to avoid a 2nd loss and dropping back in the playoff race.
Leicester started the game well, dominating the first half. Rich Manning, who had blitzed all day, constantly harassed Jets QB Marcus Gambrill, making it easy pickings for the Leicester corners with 2 picks being returned for scores.
The Eagles defense proved too strong for the Jets and they were able to jump out to an early lead and control the game. Coventry did attempt a comeback in the 2nd half but it was too late as Leicester would not relinquish their lead.
One final highlight for Coventry was also likely the play of the day. A very high snap went over the head of Jets 3rd QB Shad McCook, who turned and raced to catch it, avoided the blitzer before hurling the ball the length of the field into the waiting arms of his receiver in the endzone for the score.