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Tamworth Phoenix rise to the top in a glorious BritBowl XXXI

Too many games in BAFA’s National League are lop-sided in the score line. For the NL Premier showcase in Worcester at the weekend when the Tamworth Phoenix played an outstanding game against the equally impressive London Blitz, the 2017 BritBowl was a thriller from which either side could have emerged victorious.

The BAFA contest between the Phoenix and the London Blitz was a duel worthy of any final and did both teams proud as they battled over four quarters for the ultimate prize to be called champions.

Tamworth stamped their intent on the game’s first possession using a solid ground game to go 76 yards, finishing with the determination of Pat Daley who weaved his way through the Blitz defense for the touchdown.

London went three and out, but on their next possession took advantage of a short field and Glen Mbeleg-Toonga pounded his way through the Phoenix defense to tie the game.

In the second quarter, Tamworth’s Daley was still leading from the front and his athleticism saw him avoiding tackles to put the Phoenix back in front.  The Phoenix added a 23-yard field goal to increase their lead, but the Blitz fire was not quite extinguished.

With twenty four seconds remaining in the half, London’s Kyle Jervier caught a short pass over the middle and ran in for a score to reduce the deficit to three points as Tamworth took a 17-14 advantage into the locker room.

The Blitz received the second half kickoff and brushed their adversaries aside as they marched 66 yards to take their first lead of the game when Aaron Linley burst right and squeezed the ball into the end zone before being pushed out of bounds.

A missed field goal by London led to a Tamworth score as the Blitz discipline fell apart and gifted penalty yards to their opponents. Tamworth used the opportunity to hit back with a touchdown catch from Ryan Adams that gave the Phoenix the lead again.

London’s Eddie Cheadle plucked an interception from the air and it didn’t take long for the Blitz to go the 22 yards finishing with Alex Laird’s touchdown with the Blitz now ahead 28-24.

In a frantic game when the action never quit, Tamworth closed the points’ gap in the fourth quarter with a field goal before turning the final screw. On London’s next series, Tamworth’s Ben Davies’s leapt in front of the intended receiver to intercept a pass he returned for the touchdown that gave his team the 34-28 victory.

The Tamworth Phoenix celebrated their tenth anniversary this year and what an unforgettable way to way to remember it by being crowned the Premier Champions for the first time.

The game demonstrated how enjoyable and rewarding watching football in the UK can be. Although some games can be blowouts, I believe the standard in the UK is unquestionably improving.

Division One Final

The Manchester Titans dominated the London Olympians from the beginning of the division one final. The Titans led 20-0 before the Olympians put their first points on the board. In a game that saw Titans’ quarterback Sam Bloomfield throw for over 400 yards in his team’s 46-23 win, it proved there are receivers in the UK who can catch.

Division Two semi-finals

South

The Portsmouth Dreadnoughts found their dreams of playing in a division two final sunk by the Wembley Stallions 33-6. Despite scoring first, Portsmouth’s mistakes helped the Stallions to victory.

The Berkshire Renegades took an early 7-0 lead before a Bristol Apache touchdown and two-point after briefly gave Bristol the edge. A 27-27 tie in the final quarter was broken by a Berkshire touchdown for the 33-27 win.

North

The Glasgow Tigers outfought the Leeds Bobcats 38-20

The Shropshire Revolution shutout the banged-up Gateshead Senators 35-0.

Division Two South final
The Wembley Stallions vs the Berkshire Renegades September 10

Division Two North final
The Shropshire Revolution vs the Glasgow Tigers September 10

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