By Twm Owen
The only Welsh team in the British American Football League have four games left to save their season – starting Sunday.
The South Wales Warriors travel to Southampton to play the Solent Thrashers (1pm) knowing chances to pull themselves off the bottom of the British American Football Association (BAFA) National League Division One Central are running out.
If they are to do that the winless Warriors will need to beat the Thrashers. Their hosts are immediately above them in the five team division having recorded two wins including an earlier home victory over the Warriors in week five.
But head coach Geraint Roberts is pragmatic about the prospect of relegation to Division Two after just one season in Division One, having taken voluntary relegation from the Premier Division .
“The table doesn’t lie. We’re bottom because we have not been able to beat the teams in our division. If, at the end of the season, we get relegated, then it’s where we belong,” said Roberts of the team’s position after six games.
The previous fixture in Southampton saw the Thrashers run out 20-0 winners – the only time the Warriors had been shut out this season until last Sunday when they fell to a 3-0 defeat to the Ouse Valley Eagles.
Roberts, who has been involved with the Warriors as a player and coach for almost 20 years, said he’s never before been involved in such a low scoring game.
The Warriors had a fourth quarter touchdown chalked off for a penalty which meant the Eagles second quarter field goal was the decisive score. While the Warriors can take some encouragement from a defensive performance, even allowing for errors committed by the Eagles offense, Roberts knows his side must convert more of the chances they create.
Against the Eagles, the Warriors again rotated veteran Dean Jackson and Frenchman Max Ayoul – in his first year playing for the Welsh club -at quarterback. But the Eagles picked off the Warriors seven times to undermine any attacking threat.
Sunday’s defeat was the first game in nearly a month for the Warriors, though Roberts has refused to blame the extended rest for a sloppy performance.
“I wouldn’t say the reason for playing so poorly was the long break. We took a young and inexperienced squad and once again we made simple but costly errors. Penalties cost us dearly.
“All we can do is keep trying and learn from our mistakes. Football is a simple game but at the moment we’re making things hard for ourselves.”
The Thrashers only other win came against the Eagles but that week seven encounter couldn’t have been a greater contrast to the Warriors’ weekend defeat.
While the Warriors and Eagles slugged it out in a low scoring game the Thrashers triumphed in a 22-42 shoot-out but on Sunday fell to a 33-14 defeat at the Oxford Saints.
At Oxford the Thrashers didn’t get on the scoreboard until they were 26 points down when QB Bradley Sawyers hit wide receiver Dayle Greenfield who raced 82 yards for a quick fire score.
The Warriors will themselves travel to Oxford, for their final away game of the season, a week later before welcoming division leaders, the Sussex Thunder, to their Llanharan home in July and concluding their season with a home fixture against the Thrashers.