By Twm Owen
American Football BAFA Southern Conference Division Two West
South Wales Warriors 55 – Worcestershire Black Knights 0
SIX players helped the South Wales Warriors to eight touchdowns to open their home schedule with a convincing win over the Worcestershire Black Knights.
The West Midlands side had travelled to Llanharan on the back of two heavy defeats to face last year’s west division champions and the warm temperature only added to the challenges facing the small 23 man travelling squad.
Running backs Josh Hughes and Daniel Abruzzese wore down the Worcester defence allowing quarterback Dean Jackson and understudy Harry Taylor to enjoy a comfortable Sunday afternoon at the Dairy Field picking out receivers at leisure.
Mick Duncan and Michael Hiles both grabbed two touchdowns as the home side’s quarterback pairing threw for five scoring passes between them.
Irishman Duncan opened the scoring receiving a 10-yard pass from Jackson to cap a drive which he’d kept alive with two crucial third down receptions. Another key third down catch by Hiles had put the Warriors in position to score though Duncan’s attempted conversion was blocked.
Hiles’ first score was set up thanks to good field position following a 25-yard catch by Zac Taylor. With the Warriors having a first down 15 yards from the Black Knights goal line the defence was spread wide with four receivers spaced across the field.
That left plenty of room for Hiles to slant across the middle and collect a bullet from Jackson and trot into the endzone with Duncan adding the first of his seven conversions.
The Warriors didn’t need any help but were then gifted a touchdown when Black Knights punter Jay Styles tripped and fumbled as he attempted to clear from near his own goal line. The alert Nick Webb only had to reach down to collect the ball off the floor and walk in from three yards.
Mistakes however continued to plague the Black Knights who thought they had a touchdown of their own in the second quarter.
Receptions by Matt Thompson and the impressive George Gidlow had kept the Black Knights moving with QB Matt Cole looking to release early to beat the Warriors pass rush. When Gidlow collected a Cole pass he raced down the right for what would have been a 39-yard catch and run to score. But a block in the back ruled out the score and the visitors had to settle for a first down.
Poor snaps undermined the Black Knights throughout the day and after Gidlow’s score was chalked off another snap went sailing over Cole’s head costing the offence 20 yards and the Warriors recovered a further wayward snap at the Black Knights 20-yard line.
Jackson again looked for a receiver down the centre of the field to try and add another quick score but only found Worcestershire’s Thomas Bowen who picked him off. The Black Knights failed to take advantage and also failed to capitalise when the Warriors muffed a punt return.
Another poor Worcestershire snap allowed the Warriors to seize possession and shortly afterwards Jackson threw a third touchdown pass to a third target with Jason Roberts collecting a 21-yard fourth down pass.
From the kick-off Duncan used his physicality to ensure he claimed his short squib kick to allow the Warriors another chance to score before halftime with Harry Taylor taking over at QB. Hiles got his second TD when he collected a 45-yard Taylor bomb as he raced towards the posts.
Chris Rees opened the second half scoring, ensuring the game clock would continue to run due to the points difference, when he ran in from three yards after a poor Black Knights punt only reached their own 27-yard line.
Taylor and Duncan then combined for a 16-yard touchdown and punt returner Daniel Dacey thought he had a 50-yard score but it was called back for a penalty. Taylor however unleashed another deep pass connecting with Zac Taylor who was tackled at the one-yard line while fully stretched in an attempt to score. From there however there was no stopping Josh Hughes who crossed for the Warriors eighth touchdown.
Head coach Geraint Roberts said he was pleased at how his side coped with being heavily fancied favourites: “We showed composure. Everyone expected us to put in a good performance and how we adapted to that expectation was good to see. The boys didn’t give up, we had guys out of position. We were a little short on offensive line and guys from the defence stepped up. Andy Price is a defensive tackle but he stepped up and played at guard today. It was also nice to see nearly everyone getting some meaningful game time.”
This Sunday the Warriors are away to Bristol Apache, who following their relegation from Division One last year, are expected to be one of the stronger sides in the third tier.