PREVIEW | Eagles ready to renew Solent rivalry

28 Apr

The Eagles are back in SFC1 Central action this weekend when they travel to the South Coast to meet the Solent Thrashers on Sunday (12.30pm).

It is the fourth meeting between the two sides, with the Thrashers running out winners in each of the first three contests – including eliminating the Eagles from the play-offs in 2014 and 2015.

In the first game of the season three weeks ago an under strength Eagles side ran out 14-12 winners in a competitive game away to South Wales Warriors.

The Thrashers meanwhile went down 23-0 at home to early pace-setters Sussex Thunder last weekend, and will be looking to bounce back in what is their second of three games in successive weeks.

Team News

Head Coach Neale McMaster reported no new injury concerns following the opening-day victory over the Warriors. A number of players who missed the Warriors game are set to make their first appearance of the season, including linebackers Gareth Pullen, Fabrizio Gargiulo and Paul Mountford, and wide receivers Troy Mayer, Ryan Bowtell, Chris Gains and Rich Batten.

Andrew Oliver and Gareth Thomas will be late decisions, but longer term absentees Peter Howgego, Raul Fernández, Oliver Latimer, Jack Noblest, John Rudgard and Darren Willison are still out.

Head Coach Neale McMaster

“Really excited to renew what has been a bit of a one-sided rivalry with Solent over the past few years. Given the changes both teams have gone through since we last played it’ll be interesting to see how teams have changed and improved.

“I’m excited by the improvements we’ve made ourselves since the South Wales game – continually focusing on developing our players – and I think we’re in a good position to get a ‘W’ for the first time against the Thrashers, although as is the case with all Steve Rains-coached teams I’m expecting it to be a tough fight.”

Directions

The Thrashers play their home games at Test Park, Lower Brownhill Road, Southampton SO16 9BP:

Game Coverage

If you can’t make it to Southampton to watch the games, we will be providing live play-by-play updates via our Twitter page.

REPORT | Eagles edge out Warriors in opener

13 Apr

The Eagles opened their 2017 BAFA National League campaign with a determined and gutsy 14-12 victory over the South Wales Warriors on Sunday afternoon.

Whilst the rest of the UK enjoyed BBQ weather, South Wales was overcast and windy which did not help either offence settle in their first outing this year. An uneventful first quarter was scoreless.

The Eagles offence established a foothold with their running game in the second quarter, but were frustrated by a spirited goal-line stand by the hosts when looking likely to score.

The breakthrough finally came after a Byron Chowles interception gave the Eagles great field position, and running back Ben Cockin was able to convert from five yards. Mike Turner added the extra-point to give the visitors the half-time lead.

True to form the Warriors opened the second half in determined fashion and soon replied with a rushing touchdown of their own. The extra point conversion attempt was blocked – crucially as it would turn out – so the Eagles retained a slender advantage.

The key offensive moment for Ouse Valley took place on the next drive when QB Justin LaRoda found wide-out Bob Benney in the corner of the end zone from 36-yards for a spectacular diving catch. Turner again converted the extra point to put the visitors up 14-6.

The Eagles then appeared to be content to keep their opponents at arm’s length playing ‘bend but not break’ defence. Spirited tackling from Harry Rackham and sacks by Ross Hubbard and Garvin Yarde continued to contain Warriors offence.

This effort was exemplified by Linebacker Kase Chibwe chasing down the opposing running back and tackling him inside the five-yard line when he looked certain to score. South Wales were unable to convert and were pushed back out of field goal range by an Eagles goal-line stand.

The fourth quarter was played out with both sides exchanging possession until the Warriors drove in the last two minutes. The Eagles may have thought they had closed it out with their opponents facing fourth down with one second of the game left, however the hosts brilliantly converted a scrambling play to score in the corner as time expired.

The Warriors’ ensuing two-point conversion attempt was snuffed out by a gang of Eagles tacklers leaving them to edge a close one by 14-12 and take the win back east.

Both teams should take credit for producing an exciting game played in a great spirit. The Eagles will be glad to get that one out of the way and will look forward to hosting the game five return in Bedford on Sunday 11 June.

The next challenge is another road trip, this time to Southampton to face the Solent Thrashers, on Sunday 30th April.

Photo courtesy of Daria Urban.

PREVIEW | Eagles go west for season opener

06 Apr

The Eagles kick off the 2017 season with a long trip west to take on the South Wales Warriors this Sunday afternoon in SFC1 Central (2.30pm).

It is the first ever meeting between the two sides, and the Warriors’ first game since making the difficult decision to accept a voluntary relegation from the Premiership at the end of last season.

The Eagles meanwhile head into the game on the back of posting a disappointing 4-6 regular season record in 2016, but with a new coaching staff and a strong group of rookies looking to leave their mark.

Head Coach Neale McMaster

“I’m incredibly excited to get this season kicked off and I feel the trip down the Wales is the perfect opportunity for us to start this campaign off the right way.

“Having just came down from the Premiership last season, the Warriors will pose a great test for us to kick off our season. They have the experience of the higher level, both mentally and physically, and will test us in both departments.

“With the league schedule coming out so late we’ll be travelling with a pretty depleted squad to kick off the season, but I firmly believe the guys have it in them to go out and execute to the best of our ability and come away with a win.

“The thing I’m most looking forward to is seeing our Special Teams units be unleashed on an opponent.

“In our two pre-season games we’ve not really been able to rep them due to our opponents, so seeing them live will be exciting. I’m absolutely positive they will make a difference in the game.”

Directions

The Warriors play their home games at Llanharan Rugby Club on Bridgend Road, Llanharan CF72 9RD:

Title picture copyright Rob Dummer 2016.

Eagles season ends in defeat against the Bulls

04 Aug

The Eagles’ 2016 season came to a disappointing end with a 41-28 defeat away to the Birmingham Bulls on Sunday, thanks in no small part to a disastrous third quarter.

The Bulls received the opening kick off and after a strong drive that included successfully converting a 4th and 6 attempt on the Eagles 15-yard line, opened the scoring following a complete pass from one-yard out.

On the Eagles’ first possession a big pass completion and gain from Ross Hubbard took the offense to the Bulls 37 but the drive stalled, and the hosts were backed up inside their five-yard line following the punt.

Birmingham managed to drive to around halfway before being forced to punt, and it was the Eagles’ turn to start inside their own five.

Strong running from Kase Chibwe and a catch from Alex Smith took the Eagles to up to their 41 at the end of the first quarter, and another catch from Hubbard to start the second period moved the ball into Bulls territory.

Another completed pass to Smith took the Eagles to the 36 but a fumble on the next play was recovered by the Bulls and returned to the Eagles 28, where only a last-ditch tackle from QB Zach Wodaege prevented the lead being extended.

The Bulls got as far as the 14 before having to settle for a field goal attempt, but after the snap was fumbled the Eagles regained possession on halfway thanks to Mal Stevenson.

More strong running eventually resulted in first and goal on the four, and Chibwe crossed the line to reduce the deficit to 7-6 after the unsuccessful PAT attempt.

Andy Larwill’s fumble recovery got the Eagles the ball back quickly just inside the Bulls half, and when Wodaege connected with Smith from 36 yards out – running backwards – the Eagles had the lead.

The Bulls drove to halfway at the two-minute warning and down to the 18-yard line soon after, but Tony Ledger’s interception killed the momentum and the Eagles were unable to capitalise before the half, despite several quick first downs.

Half-Time: Bulls 7 Eagles 12

The Eagles received the kick off to start the second half but the drive stalled in the Bulls half and they regained possession on their ten-yard line after Ross Hubbard’s punt.

A 23-yard run and 14-yard pass took the Bulls to midfield, and a 53-yard pass over the top unlocked the Eagles secondary to regain the lead, the PAT attempt making the score 14-12.

The Bulls forced a fumble on the kick return and returned it for a touchdown, converted a two-point attempt to extend their lead to 22-12, and capitalised on another fumble on fourth and short on the Eagles’ next possession to take the score to 28-12 after an unsuccessful two-point attempt.

When the Eagles fumbled another kick off return to hand the ball back to the Bulls they wasted no time in punching the ball in again to make it 27 unanswered points in a horrific third period from an Eagles perspective.

The fourth quarter started with a strong offensive drive from the Eagles that was ended by a five-yard touchdown run by Chibwe and two-point conversion to cut the score to 34-20, but any chances of an unlikely comeback were put to bed on the Bulls’ next possession (41-20).

The final touchdown of the game came from departing QB Wodaege who ran the ball in for the Eagles from inside the five, and Gareth “Tish” Pullen trundled across the line for the two-point conversion to make the final score 41-28 to the Bulls.

After the game Interim Head Coach Darren Hill informed the team that he would not be putting himself forward for the position on a regular basis. Further details will be announced in due course.

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PREVIEW | Blackhawks set for season finale

29 Jul

The Blackhawks bring the curtain down on their inaugural season against Reading Lions in the BAFA Flag Southeastern Conference tomorrow.

Aylesbury Vale Spartans – who also face the Lions – are hosting the game. The ‘Hawks were also due to meet the Solent Thrashers but unfortunately they will not be attending.

The Blackhawks have their full squad available and will at full strength for the game, and Jed Parisi says the team are still pushing for an unlikely place in the post-season:

It’s the last gameday of the season and the guys are looking to close the season on a high. We are against some tough opposition but still not mathematically out of a playoff spot.

Schedule

The first game of the day will kick off at 10am, and pairs the Spartans with the Lions. After Highflyers pulled out of the league the reduced schedule for the morning is:

  • Aylesbury Vale Spartans vs Reading Lions
  • Bedford Blackhawks vs Reading Lions
Directions

The games will take place at Fairford Leys Pitches, Coldharbour Way (off Oxford Road), Aylesbury HP17 8QQ:

Game Coverage

If you can’t make it to Sandy to watch the games we will be providing regular updates via the Blackhawks Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Doncaster game postponed

16 Jul

Please be aware that due to circumstances out of our control, tomorrow’s game vs Doncaster Mustangs has been postponed.

We are doing what we can to get the game rearranged, and will publish any further information once confirmed.

Sincere apologies for all inconvenience caused, especially to our friends at the Mustangs.

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PREVIEW | Doncaster Mustangs (H)

15 Jul

The Eagles’ fourth and final home game of the 2016 season takes place this Sunday as we welcome the Doncaster Mustangs to Bedford International Athletics Stadium in the Midlands Football Conference (12pm).

TThe Mustangs were formed in 2002 by Mark Blyth, Doug McLean and James Berry, who had grown tired of driving to Merseyside to coach and play for the Nighthawks each weekend.

In the team’s second year they won the BAFL Division 2 title following an undefeated season which culminated in a 32-13 win over the Chiltern (now Hertfordshire) Cheetahs at the Don Valley Stadium in the bowl game.

The team made it back to the play-offs in 2005, and in 2007 moved to the newly-opened Keepmoat Stadium.

After three seasons in the Premier Division North between 2012 and 2014 where they posted successive records of 6-3-1, 6-4 and 0-9, the Mustangs were relegated to the restructured Northern Football Conference 1.

Last season the Mustangs went 4-6 to finish eighth in NFC 1, which included a strong finish to the campaign that saw them win their last three games.

Their first game of the season was the 13-12 defeat against the Eagles on 17th April, and they picked up their first win two weeks later against the Birmingham Bulls (20-13).

Since then they beat the impressive Sandwell Steelers 6-3, lost at the Nottingham Caesars (16-12) before getting their revenge at home (36-19).

In their last two games they completed the double over the Bulls thanks to a convincing 30-12 win at the Keepmoat, but in their last game went down 48-0 away to the Steelers.

After Peterborough pulled out of the league Sunday is the Mustangs’ last game of the season, and a win should be good enough to secure a play-off place.

The Eagles meanwhile come into the game on the back of an impressive 40-19 victory over the Nottingham Caesars last month to move to 4-4 for the season, with a place in the play-offs still a possibility.

Team News

The Eagles will be without Kevin Kong, Miguel Alvarez-Frias, Nathaniel Ashby and Oliver Lattimer, as well as long-term injury victims defensive back Vasco Dias (knee), offensive lineman James Busby (leg) and defensive lineman Anthony Ogunleye (shoulder).

MustangsCover

In this week’s Programme

This week’s programme cover features Chairman and Offensive Coordinator Neale McMaster.

Inside we hear from McMaster, Interim Head Coach Darren Hill and Rookie of the Week Nathan Spencer.

We also have a feature on our visitors the Doncaster Mustangs, a Spectator Guide and more.

The programme is free with admission (£2 each for adults or free for under-18s).

Directions

Our home games are played at Bedford International Athletics Stadium, Barkers Lane, Bedford MK41 9SB.

The Bedford River Festival is taking place this weekend which means there may be some road closures in place around the Embankment, so please ensure you leave extra time to get to BIAS for the game:

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PREVIEW | Blackhawks host the Wolves and Panthers

14 Jul

The Blackhawks are back in action this weekend for the next round of BAFA Flag Southeastern Conference games.

The matches take place on Saturday, are hosted by the ‘Hawks and also feature Ware Wolves and Victoria Park Panthers. Bishop’s Stortford HighFlyers have withdrawn.

The Blackhawks have their full squad available and will at full strength for the game, and Jed Parisi is looking forward to making a final push for a place in the post-season:

It is the penultimate gameday of the season for us and with a team in our division dropping out it tightens everything up again, and a second win against Ware will really help us to push to make the play-offs this year.

Schedule

The first game of the day will kick off at 10am, and pairs the Blackhawks with the Wolves. After Highflyers pulled out of the league the reduced schedule for the morning is:

  • Bedford Blackhawks vs Ware Wolves
  • Ware Wolves vs Victoria Park Panthers
Directions

The games will take place at Sunderland Road Recreation Ground, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 1QY:

Game Coverage

If you can’t make it to Sandy to watch the games we will be providing regular updates via the Blackhawks Twitter and Facebook pages.

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PREVIEW | Blackhawks at full strength for round four

24 Jun

The Blackhawks travel to Hertfordshire this weekend for their next round of BAFA Flag Southeastern Conference games.

The matches, which take place tomorrow, are hosted by the Ware Wolves and as well as the Blackhawks feature the Bishop’s Stortford HighFlyers and Victoria Park Panthers.

The Blackhawks have their full squad available and will at full strength for the first time all season.

Jed Parisi and Jake Cooper come up against their old teammates the Wolves for the first time, and Parisi is looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces:

The lads are all excited for this weekend’s games, no-one more than me and Jake as it’s our first game back against our team Ware.

This game day is critical if we are to qualify for the play-offs this season.

Schedule

The first game of the day will kick off at 10am, and pairs the hosts with the Panthers. The full schedule for the day is:

  • Ware Wolves vs Victoria Park Panthers
  • Bishop’s Stortford HighFlyers vs Bedford Blackhawks
  • Ware Wolves vs Bishop’s Stortford HighFlyers
  • Bedford Blackhawks vs Victoria Park Panthers
  • Bishop’s Stortford HighFlyers vs Victoria Park Panthers
  • Ware Wolves vs Bedford Blackhawks
Directions

The games will take place at Freman College, Bowling Green Lane, Buntingford, Hertfordshire SG9 9BT.

Directions are below, but please drive right to the end of Bowling Green Lane and into the school, straight ahead through to a small car park at the far end of the school. Walk alon side the gym onto the playing field:

Game Coverage

If you can’t make it to Buntingford to watch the games, we will be providing regular updates via the Blackhawks Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Eagles bounce back with a bang

14 Jun

The Eagles bounced back from last weekend’s close defeat in the best way possible with a convincing 40-19 victory away to the Nottingham Caesars at Harvey Hadden Stadium on Sunday.

Nottingham returned the opening kick-off to their 30-yard line but a holding penalty backed them up, and when Mikey Davies intercepted the ball on second and 15 the Eagles had possession in excellent field position.

A pass completed to Kevin Vasquez gave the Eagles first and goal on the 5-yard line and Richard Thompson powered over the line to open the scoring, Ross Hubbard successfully converting the PAT.

On the Caesars’ next possession they drove the ball to the Eagles 33-yard line, but after deciding to go for it on 4th and 3 were again picked off, this time by Byron Chowles.

Neither side could do anything of note on their next possessions, but the Caesars’ Kieran Matthews recovered a muffed punt return by Eagles Special Teams unit to get the ball back on the Eagles 24-yard line.

They went four and out to give the ball back to the Eagles, who in turn went three and out as the first quarter came to a close.

Both sides continued to trade possessions at the start of the second quarter before the visitors managed to get a toehold in the game.

Strong running and successful short passes took the Eagles to first and goal on the two-yard line, and although the Caesars defence initially held firm they were undone on third and goal after Zach Wodaege’s pass intended for Hubbard was tipped into the grateful hands of Alex “my name isn’t Cross” Smith.

The PAT attempt was blocked but the Eagles lead 13-0.

On their next possession the Caesars were picked off by Nate Ashby, but after the Eagles went three and out got the ball back on their own six after a muffed punt return.

A few players later the deficit was reduced following an eighty-yard pass play. The Caesars QB connected with his receiver across the middle, who burst through the Eagles secondary.

The Eagles started again on the 30-yard line following the punt return, and a short run and pass completed to Hubbard took them to around halfway as we reached the two-minute warning.

Wodaege’s long pass to Smith later and the Eagles had another TD and a lead of 19-6 following the blocked PAT attempt.

After the kick off the Caesars had the ball on their own 26-yard line, and after moving to the 42 thought they had scored only to see another massive pass play called back for a flag.

Ross Cousins sacked the Caesars QB on the very next play, and after being forced to punt on fourth down the Eagles had the ball back on their own 20 with 27 seconds left to play in the half.

Two impressive runs by Richard Thompson took the ball to the halfway line with eleven seconds to play as the Eagles took their third and final timeout of the half.

Wodaege connected with another bomb to Smith which took the ball all the way to the three-yard line, and although time expired as the Eagles tried to spike it, a defensive penalty meant there was an opportunity for one more un-timed play.

It was an opportunity the Eagles offense wasn’t going to waste, and when Wodaege again found Smith in the end zone the lead was further extended to end the half.

Half-Time: Caesars 6 Eagles 25

The second half started as positively for the Eagles as the first had ended.

Excellent blocking by the offensive line and determined running by Thompson – assisted by two face cage penalties against the Nottingham defence – put the Eagles back within striking distance, and it was Thompson who finished the drive by powering across the line.

Wodaege found Hubbard in the back of the end zone with the two-point attempt, and the Eagles had extended their lead again, this time to 33-6.

Both sides traded possession for most of the third quarter before the game sprung to life thanks to another Mikey Davies interception.

Wodaege threw a pick of his own to give possession back to the Caesars, and this time they were able to capitalise and cut the lead to 33-12 after an unsuccessful two-point attempt.

The third quarter ended with the Eagles driving but after going for it on fourth and long on the 30 the Caesars regained possession – only to quickly lose it again thanks to yet another interception by Mikey Davies.

Four plays later Wodaege found Smith again for his fourth touchdown of the day, with Hubbard’s PAT taking the score to 40-12.

The Caesars weren’t finished yet though. They returned the kick-off all the way for a touchdown and the PAT brought them back to within three scores, but once the Eagles successfully recovered their onside kick attempt any remote possibility of a comeback was extinguished.

The Eagles were able to comfortably see out the rest of the game and seal an excellent victory to move to 4-4 for the season with two games left to play.

Picture courtesy of Steve Guy.

In case you missed it, the game was broadcasted in full by our friends at CaesarsTV, and you can check it out in full here:

The Eagles are next in BAFANL action on Sunday 17th July against the Doncaster Mustangs at Bedford International Athletics Stadium.

Kick-off is midday, with admission £2 each for adults (for which you receive a free programme) or free for under-18s.

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