To Mill Hill Rugby Club’s home field for the Blitz B team’s season opener.
The Blitz’s temporary home may have been unfamiliar to players used to Finsbury Park. However, anyone searching for inspiration need not have looked far as the field and clubhouse are set just off Champions Way, and on a clear day (as it was on Sunday) Allianz Stadium (the home of Saracens Rugby Club) can be spied through the treetops.
This setting was the stage for what proved to be a dramatic game between the Blitz and the Essex Spartans.
The Blitz won the toss and chose to defer. The Blitz’s apparent faith in its defence was not misplaced with it pitching a shout-out in the first half. Its front seven deserve particular praise for remaining stout against the Spartans’ power running game.
Meanwhile, the Blitz’s mercurial offence showed flashes of what it is capable of on two scoring drives, both finishing in precise throws from QB Chris Walker to wide-receiver Andrew Tierney. However, at the half the Blitz’s lead was a not insurmountable 12 - 0 owing to a string of offensive miscues including interceptions and penalties that negated big plays.
The Blitz coaches warned against complacency, foretelling a surge from the Spartans in the second half which came to pass. First, the Spartans intercepted an ill-timed pass and took it to the house. Then, having marched down to the red-zone, the Spartans scored on a well-executed toss. Successful extra point attempts on both TD's put the Spartans up 14 - 12.
With seconds remaining on the clock, Blitz B Head Coach Anthony Coverdale made the gutsy call to go for a TD rather than pinning the team's hopes on its first ever field goal. After receiving the snap in the shotgun, QB Chris Walker pumped once and found running back Rayann Tohr in the middle of the field who was then dragged backward into the end-zone by his team-mates. This time, at the most crucial point in the match, the delirium on the Blitz side-line was not cut short by the sight of a yellow flag on the field.
However, celebrations will be brief as attentions now turn to Sunday's away fixture against the Cambridgeshire Cats, who lie in wait and will look to pounce on the smallest mistake...
Match report by Nii Anteson
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