Roughnecks Come Close in Tight Affair with Vikings

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Having returned to .500 following the trip to Yorkshire, we were looking at another tough challenge as the Northumberland Vikings made the journey north to The Rig. This would be the first time of two ‘familiar’ foes we are to face this season, having previously met the Newcastle Vikings in division 2 prior to their amalgamation with the Northumberland Lightning.

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With a strong wind blowing down The Rig it became apparent early on that it would be an important factor and by extension as would the direction which each team would be attacking. This would present the Vikings the favour of the opening exchanges, winning the early field position battle, to find their way deep into Roughnecks territory. A couple of short drives for each offence and the wind effecting punt distances again would see Northumberland make it into the Roughnecks redzone, this time resulting in a score. A short screen pass left would provide a Vikings’ wide receiver with a running opportunity, a missed Roughnecks tackle would leave them outmanned giving the visitors the lead with a good snap, hold and kick to follow making it 7 - 0 to the Vikings at the end of the first quarter.

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The change of direction in the second quarter would put the Roughnecks on the front foot, as the field position battle would swing in our favour. The Roughnecks offence were moving the ball well through the air, with QB Chris Breen finding several receivers quickly and allowing them to make first downs, but the Vikings defence would condense and stiffen up with the endzone remaining out of reach, although a 34 yard FG would be reduce the deficit to just 4 points at the half time interval.

Scoring chances for either side would come few and far between for both teams in the second half, with the Roughnecks coming close early on only for the Vikings’ defence to stiffen up once again, this time getting off the field following a failed 4th down attempt inside their 10 yard line following a strong drive from the Roughnecks offence. The Roughnecks’ defence thought that they would have a chance of their own, forcing a fumble from the Vikings’ QB only for the referees to whistle the play dead deeming forward progress had been stopped despite the quarterback fighting tooth and nail to escape the oncoming D-line like a swarm of land-sharks. With the Vikings opting not to throw the ball for the entire second half, both the 3rd and 4th quarters would waste away, ultimately leaving the score as it was at the end of the 1st Half.

Fulltime: Roughnecks 3 - 7 Vikings

Head Coach, Bryce Stevenson, had this to say about the game and the season so far:

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“[Sunday] showed how much this team has developed and I'm incredibly proud of how we have played our first 3 games. Yesterday's loss was dissapointing not to come away with the victory however we can take an awful lot of positives away. We will break down our performance and look at how we can win this reverse fixture. Special thanks to all who came down to support and I promise we will do everything we can to ensure our next home game we get that W. The team are upbeat and are about to start a 4 game in 4 week stand after 3 weeks of preparation for these 4 games. We are on target to hit our preseason goal of remaining in Division one and after these next four games I believe we shall be looking forward to trying to achieve our second target. Full credit to Northumberland who on the day took their chance and fought solidly to keep our offence from taking the lead. "

Scorers, Turnovers and MVPs

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DMVP: #69 D/OL Matt McCall

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Matt made play after play on defence, stopping Vikings drives singlehandedly with sacks and tackles for loss. He wreaked havoc all day long and gave his all. His effort did not go unnoticed on the offensive line creating lanes for the running game and providing QB Chris Breen with plenty of time to find a receiver downfield

Offensive MVP: #18 WR Rhys Elmslie

Rhys made some incredibly impressive catches with Northumberland players draped all over him. Not even Pass Interference would be enough to stop Rhys as he kept the offence moving down the field.

MVP: #85 LB/TE Rob Hayes

Rob had another excellent day, shutting down running lanes, getting to the ball carrier making tackles and showing his leadership as captain from start to finish. On offence Rob’s willingness to stay in and block created opportunities in the running game whilst demanding respect from the Vikings in the passing game too!

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Scorers

FG: #4 K Stuart Don (35 Yards) S: #20 Darren Henderson H: #44 Grant Travis

Turnovers

Interception: #22 FS Gamuchirai Mukuredzi

Roughnecks Go Lambing in Leeds on Easter Weekend

Leaving Aberdeen at 6am we were headed to Leeds for our first road game of the year against the Yorkshire Rams. Having finished 6-4 last season behind the Northumberland Vikings and Lancashire Wolverines, the Rams would be looking to get their season going with a win having been touted to be in contention for the division crown.

Having chosen to receive the opening kick-off the Rams offence struggled to get their run game going as the Roughnecks front 7 on defence swallowed up running backs and the quarter back in the backfield allowing the Roughnecks offence to take to the field and whilst a punt ended the first drive of the day they never looked back. Quarterback #16 Chris Breen would get the scoring started as he found Tight End #85 Rob Hayes in the endzone on a long pass downfield on third down; Roughnecks 7, Rams 0 with a successful PAT. A short Rams drive later would end with a botched punt snap which #27 Ross Herbert scooped up only to be stopped at the Rams 1 yard line. Running back #35 Dave Obatolu would happily then take to the field to convert the turnover into 6 points powering his way into the endzone however a blocked PAT would leave the score at 13 - 0 at the end of the 1st quarter.

Kicker #4 Stuart Don would make it 16 - 0 with a successful ~30-yard FG early in the second period, and a turnover from DB #22 Gamuchirai Mukuredzi would provide #35 Dave Obatolu another opportunity to find the endzone. This time he would receive a short pass from QB Chris Breen before taking the ball 35 yards, weaving through the Rams defence; Roughnecks 23 - 0 Rams, this time with K #23 Phil McCall tacking on the extra point. Pinning the Rams offence back from the ensuing kick-off would let the defence pin their ears back and getting pressure on the QB led to an intentional grounding penalty in the endzone, which by rule is a safety. 2 points to the defence, and a 25 - 0 lead at half time for the Roughnecks.

Determined not to give anything away in the second half, the defence continued to stand resolute forcing and recovering fumbles to get the offence back on the field and earn much needed rest on what was a sweltering Yorkshire afternoon. On one such occasion however Punt Returner #6 Lewis Hughes would ensure that rest wouldn’t be for long, almost finding the endzone on a long return only to be stopped agonisingly short, allowing #35 Dave Obatolu to complete a hat-trick in the 4th quarter again powering in from close-range. With Phil McCall having earlier added his first ever field goal to the score from ~35 yards out, Dave’s touchdown would make it 34 - 0 the PAT hold compromising the kick attempt. A final score of the game would ensure the game ended under a running-clock, with QB #18 Rhys Elmslie having to improvise with a wayward snap , forcing him to roll out of the pocket before delivering a throw to Tight End #85 Rob Hayes who rose above the Rams defence to come down in the back of the endzone. Rhys would then run in the 2PAT making the score 42 - 0 and sealing the deal on what was a very productive day for the Roughnecks.

FT: Aberdeen ROUghnecks 42 - 0 Yorkshire Rams

Following the disappointment of last weekend, it was great to be able to make amends and return to .500. We now prepare for the visit of the Northumberland Vikings to the Rig on the 5th of May.

Coach Stevenson had this to add:
"I’m immensely proud of what the guys went out there and did today. Not many had given us a chance of getting a result and to do so in the manner which we did really shows the hard-work and improvement this team strives for on a weekly basis. Credit also to my coaching team who keep working to ensure the guys remained upbeat after the tough result last week. 24 hour rule applies as always and then we move onto Northumberland.”

SCORERS, Turnovers AND MVPs

Defensive MVP: #44 DL Grant Travi

Trav really personified what we were looking for on defence yesterday with unrelenting effort, shutting down the run game early and with the help of the rest of the front 7 never let up.

Offensive MVP: #57 OL Angus Wright

All day long the offensive line gave both Quarterbacks all day to deliver dimes. Gus stood out standing strong and giving up nothing to the Rams D-Line.

MVP: #35 Dave Obatolu

Dave found pay-dirt 3 times and ran hard all day, carving through the Rams defence and carrying defenders with him.

Scorers

Touchdowns: 3x Dave Obatolu, 2x Rob Hayes

Kicking: Stuart Don (FG, PAT), Phil McCall (FG, PAT)

Turnovers

Gamu Mukuredzi INT, Ross Herbert FR, Grant Travis FR, Andy Watts FR, Matt McCall FR

Pirates Prove to be Formidable Foes in Opening Day Clash

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Whilst we have shared a field with the East Kilbride Pirates before, most of our current playing and coaching staffs would fail to remember that day back in 2014. Still donning our green uniforms back then, we hosted the Pirates for a combined scrimmage during our inaugural campaign. Needless to say the then Premiership outfit came out the better of the two sides quite comfortably but this time we were determined to show just how far we had come since that day, and that our promotion was by no means a fluke.

Gamuchirai Mukuredzi finds photographer Gail Davis during his TD return

Gamuchirai Mukuredzi finds photographer Gail Davis during his TD return

Receiving the opening kick-off of the season we would get to work on offence following a strong kick-off return just short of Pirate’s territory. Both sides would struggle to move the ball early on with the defences holding strong and forcing punts early. Following a blocked punt the field position battle would swing in the Pirates’ favour which their offence would capitalise on towards the end of the first quarter as the QB would find the endzone on a 14 yard run. The PAT would be tacked on and the lead was 7. Following that disappointment however the defence would stand tall again in the second quarter with neither team troubling the scoreboard again before the end of the half with a particularly brave goal-line stand from the Roughnecks to leave the score 7 - 0 in the Pirates’ favour.

Last season’s Rookie of the year, #22 DB Gamuchirai Mukuredzi would get the Roughnecks’ second half off to a brilliant start though, scooping up the ball following a blocked punt and finding the endzone to get the team on the board. Roughnecks 6 - 7 Pirates with the PAT failing to make it through the posts. The Roughnecks offence were steadily improving through the game, however the Pirates would extend their lead in the third quarter with another touchdown on a long QB run, PAT and a safety to make it 16 - 6 to finish the 3rd quarter.

Rob Hayes (Right) just after cutting the deficit with his receiving touchdown

Rob Hayes (Right) just after cutting the deficit with his receiving touchdown

The Pirates’ QB would find the endzone another time before the end of the game to make it 23 - 6 but the Roughnecks offence would strike back. Quarterback #16 Chris Breen would find #85 TE Rob Hayes in the back of the endzone with a 17 yard pass to reduce the defecit to 11 points with the 2PAT coming up short. A failed onside kick attempt would gift the Pirates great field position and allow them to salt away much of the remaining time in the game - something we could ill afford as the game drew to a close 23 - 12 to the Pirates.

FT: Aberdeen ROughnecks 12 - 23 East Kilbride Pirates

All in all a disappointing day for the Roughnecks as a few opportunities were allowed to slip through our fingers, but congratulations to the Pirates who’s defence stood resolute throughout. We now look to our next game, this Saturday against the Yorkshire Rams.

Head Coach Bryce Stevenson speaks with the Head Referee ahead of the game

Head Coach Bryce Stevenson speaks with the Head Referee ahead of the game

Head Coach Bryce Stevenson added: “Sunday's game was a frustrating one to say the least. I feel we didn't capatalise on opportunities we provided for ourselves and EKP took advantage of theirs. It's dissapointing but I know this team will move on from this result and we will ensure we do everything right to put the players in the best position to succeed. We have a short week against the Yorkshire Rams this week playing away on Saturday evening but I know the players are keen to ensure we move to .500.”

Ruari Collinson, our Offensive Co-ordinator, echoed those sentiments as a whole but added that he is keen to draw on the positives from Sunday’s game and focus on improving consistency going into our clash with the Rams.

MVPs and Scorers

Offensive MVP: #85 TE Rob Hayes

Rob played well all day on Sunday, staying in to block in the run game and coming away with the Touchdown reception on a beautiful over the shoulder catch in the back of the endzone.

Defensive MVP: #4 CB Stuart Don

Stuart was great in pass coverage all day, allowing no receptions on balls thrown his way, and funnelled the run back inside well.

Match MVP: #95 DL Winston Ojei

Winston’s showed great discipline in rushing, and was a nightmare in the opposition back field against his former team, a few sacks and a goal-line fumble added the stats to back up a fantastic debut effort.

Touchdown Scorers:

#22 Gamuchirai Mukuredzi - Punt Return TD

#85 Rob Hayes - 17 Yard Reception TD

Photographs from the Incredible Gail Davis

Match MVP Winston Ojei tackling an East Kilbride runner from behind

Match MVP Winston Ojei tackling an East Kilbride runner from behind

Foreword on the 2019 Season from Head Coach Bryce Stevenson

Ahead of our 2019 we took the chance to speak with new head coach Bryce Stevenson on the season ahead and the preseason:

‘Being less than a week away from the regular season opener against East Kilbride Pirates I am glad of this opportunity to reflect on our preseason and look forward to our first season in Division One.

Special Teams Coordinator George Pirie in Action during the Preseason Match against the Clyde Valley Blackhawks

Special Teams Coordinator George Pirie in Action during the Preseason Match against the Clyde Valley Blackhawks

Having taken over as Head Coach on a full time basis I wanted to build on the terrific work Coach Collinson had done last year as the Interim Head Coach, working together to ensure that this team was put in the best position possible to succeed. We also brought back Coach Pirie ST Coordinator and he has also become the OL coach this year.

With the addition of Matthew Watt and Nathan Morrice - RB coach and Defensive assistant respectively - I couldn't be happier with the work ethic and knowledge these 2 coaches bring to this team. The team have responded terrifically well to the new coaches coming in and I am very excited to help them grow in their roles within the team.

Coach Ruari Collinson once again takes the reigns of the Roughnecks Offence in 2019

Coach Ruari Collinson once again takes the reigns of the Roughnecks Offence in 2019

We started the year off in January with a 3 day residential camp in Dunfermline where the guys were pushed to their limits both mentally and physically to ensure they would be able to deal with any situation they are confronted with. We took it right back to basics and the camp was a huge success for both the players and coaching staff. Camp was where the 4 Captains for the upcoming season were announced and also decided to have positional leaders to oversee all positional groups to ensure accountability was observed. The 4 Captains for this year are OL Andrew Watts, DB Darren Henderson, QB Chris Breen and MLB Robert Hayes.

Head Coach Bryce Stevenson (top) and our two preseason outings vs Clyde Valley (bottom) and the Edinburgh Wolves (right)

Head Coach Bryce Stevenson (top) and our two preseason outings vs Clyde Valley (bottom) and the Edinburgh Wolves (right)

Following on from Camp we have taken part in two organised events with Clyde Valley Blackhawks and the Edinburgh Wolves. Having played a preseason game against the Blackhawks this year it allowed both teams to give rookies their first taste of live game action and in typical Northern football it was a very physical affair with the weather doing everything it could to add to the intensity levels.

Next came a situational training session with the Edinburgh Wolves. A thoroughly enjoyable day for everyone associated with the Aberdeen Roughnecks and gave an insight into what is required to taking the next step and we certainly gained a lot from the session.

I'd like to thank both Coach Yates of Clyde Valley and Coach Edmonston of Edinburgh for their help in allowing both events to happen and wish them every success in their campaigns this year.

This is by far going to be this teams toughest test to date but we wouldn't want it any other way. I believe that the team are ready to take on Division One and hit our primary goal which is to establish ourselves this year in Division One. There will be adversity facing us on occasion this year however with the preseason we have had and the mentality that this team carries I have absolutely no concerns about our mental toughness and strength to face these problems.

Coaches Nathan Morrice (left) and Matthew Watt (right), both join the Roughnecks Coaching Staff for the 2019

Coaches Nathan Morrice (left) and Matthew Watt (right), both join the Roughnecks Coaching Staff for the 2019

The coaching staff are doing everything possible every single day to ensure that the players are given the best opportunity to succeed because they deserve it.

Our first three fixtures see us at home to East Kilbride Pirates and Northumberland Vikings with a long away day to Yorkshire Rams all teams who will have the desire to be top of the North when it's all done. This provides us with a massive opportunity to test ourselves against some of the most ambitious teams in the country and we want to come out of all 3 games with positive results.

I'm very much looking forward to being on the sideline this year and seeing the familiar faces spectating and cheering the team on. A lot of our followers have been around the team since the beginning of the Aberdeen Roughnecks and I am looking forward to seeing them cheering us on at the highest level this team has competed at to date.

Finally I'm incredibly proud of the way each player has prepared themselves both individually and as a collective team. And I'm very grateful to be the Head Coach of the hardest working team in football.’

"A great player has the ability to win any game, but a great team has the ability to win every game."

Rookies No More! Part 2 - Che Mueller

With the dawn of a new season on the horizon it means the start of some sophomore seasons for last season’s rookies. With that we took the chance to speak with a few of them to find out their thoughts on joining the team incase you’re still on the fence about joining! Next up it’s the turn of #90 Defensive Lineman, Che Meuller.

Che dazzled throughout his rookie season doing a lot of dirty work in the trenches and put on a great performance in the NFC 2 Championship final to boot! At the age of 37 Che showed all of the young guys on the team how to get it done and really shows you’re never too old to take up the sport!

Q: WHAT were your first impressions of the team and how were they changed through the year?

A: I was first impressed with how many people in Aberdeen like American football enough to play! As the year went on I was further impressed by the knowledge of the game and culture as well as the dedication to the team.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about coming along to the rookie sessions this november?

A: If you're thinking about it...just do it. Coaching staff and senior players are super helpful.

Q: What was your favourite thing about being a roughneck?

A: Difficult to answer following an undefeated championship season, but actually it was the people and the comradeship that we built through the year.

Q: What are your aims for this season?

A: This year, I want to build on last year, up one division, so we all need to up our game.

Q: Finally, and most importantly, what song did you sing for your rookie initiation?

A: A classic - Sweet Caroline!

Roughnecks Rookies No More! Part 1 - Gamu Mukuredzi

With the dawn of a new season on the horizon it means the start of some sophomore seasons for last season’s rookies. With that we took the chance to speak with a few of them to find out their thoughts on joining the team incase you’re still on the fence about joining! First up we speak to Defensive Back #22 Gamu Mukuredzi.

Gamu joined us last season and instantly made his presence felt developing into a key starter for the team on defence last season and scooping up the Bud Light MVP award in our home game against the Dumfries Hunters.

Q: What were your first impressions of the team and how were they changed through the year?

A. I was quite overwhelmed initially because I was in a new environment and I didn’t know anyone, but after a couple of weeks I felt very comfortable and have loved every moment since everyone is so easy to get along with and were incredibly willing to help me develop.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about coming along to the rookie sessions this November?

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A: Try have an idea of where you want to play but be open minded and have fun!

Q: What was your favourite thing about being a Roughneck?

A: The camaraderie amongst the guys was great with the veteran guys always willing to help out and looking forward to training and games week to week!

Q: What are your aims for this season?

A: To be the best athlete I can possibly and become division 1 best corner

Q: Finally - and most importantly - what song did you sing for your rookie initiation?

A: Big Shaq - Mans Not Hot

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Roughnecks Committee Restructured

Following Sunday’s AGM we have a host of fresh new faces on the committee and new roles filled.

With former secretary Ally Howe stepping aside, Andrew Watts steps into the role on the senior committee which will oversee the three new sub-committees alongside returning GM - Grant Travis - and Treasurer - Ollie Schaffmann and new Director of Football Operations, Ruari Collinson. This central committee will oversee the most important issues in the day-to-day running of the club and aid the subcommittees where required.

The new youth subcommittee has been established with the imminent reintroduction of our youth and junior teams and is headed by Youth and Junior Manager Nicola Bennett. She will be assisted by Daire O’Beirne and Ross Elrick as General Youth Committee Members in the running of our programmes geared for players between the ages of 13 and 16. These programmes are seen as being of paramount importance to the long-term success of the whole Roughnecks programme with the youth and junior programmes providing a platform for teenagers to get into the game before they are able to graduate to the senior team.

The new gameday committee expands the previous equipment manager role and will be in charge of ensuring that match days run smoothly for everyone involved. Mark Wemyss steps into the gameday manage role vacated by Finlay Johnson who is leaving due to work commitment elsewhere, and will be assisted by equipment manager Angus Wright and our General Gameday Committee Member Nathan Morrice. The Social subcommittee sees Stuart Don, Darren Henderson and Phil McCall return to their roles as Social Media/PR representative, Social Secretary and Fundraising/Sponsorship Secretary respectively.

This restructuring is intended to lessen the burden on the major committee roles allowing the club to operate more efficiently. Sunday’s AGM also saw Bryce Stevenson implemented as the Head Coaching role as was announced yesterday.

Roughnecks Appoint Bryce Stevenson as Permanent Head Coach

We are delighted to announce the appointment of our new full time Head Coach - Bryce Stevenson. Bryce steps into the role following a highly successful season as our defensive co-ordinator in 2018 where he delivered the NFC 2 Championship alongside Interim Head Coach Ruari Collinson and Special Teams Co-ordinator, George Pirie.

On the appointment Bryce said:

"I am absolute thrilled to have been appointed Head Coach of the Aberdeen Roughnecks. I'm very excited to back to work with the players shortly after a well deserved postseason break, as we prepare to embark on a season within Division 1.

I'm also delighted to announce that Coach Collinson will be returning to take up the Offensive Coordinator position. Coach Collinson was an integral part of this team's success last year and I hope to announce the return of Coach Pirie as the Special Teams Coordinator in the next few days also. The message remains the same from ourselves as previously that we are going to work incredibly hard to provide our players with the best opportunity to succeed at whatever level we play."

Bryce steps into the role with immediate respect ahead of the preparations for the 2019 season as the Roughnecks strive to prove themselves in the second tier of British American Football for the first time. Coach Collinson will now also step into the Director of Football Operations role following Sunday’s AGM. Ruari elected to take on this senior committee role which will allow him to continue his excellent work as offensive co-ordinator whilst overseeing the club’s development as a Division 1 programme in the BAFA National Leagues.

Roughnecks are Champions as Romans Fail to Conquer Scotland Once More

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Having traversed Hadrian's Wall earlier in the day, the Roughnecks took to the field at Druids Park with the conditions and field perfect for a spot of play-off football. This is what the whole season would come down to, one final game to crown the NFC 2 Champions. 

Electing to receive the opening kick-off the offence would take to the field first and the game started as it would go on. The Romans defence would swarm the pocket all evening, restricting the running and passing game and forcing punts from the Roughnecks throughout the day. The Romans however would find a similar fate. Known for their deep air raid passing offence the Roughnecks secondary knew it was in for a long day, but early doors CB - and semi-final MVP - #42 Remi Theron would let it be known they were up to the challenge. Remi ripped a deep pass out of the clutches of a Romans receiver who was surely in for the go ahead score if not for the Frenchman's intervention. Both teams were making mistakes however, with penalties from both, two missed FG from the Roughnecks and turnovers from the Romans (1 Fumble forced and recovered by #22 Gamu Mukuredzi, and 1 Interception from FS #4 Stuart Don) leaving the score at 0 - 0 following the end of the first quarter.

It would be a Roughnecks penalty that would lead to the Romans taking the lead, as the Roughnecks blocked a FG attempt which was deemed to be cause by illegal contact with the long snapper. The Romans would get a new set of downs near the Roughnecks goalline and would capitalise to take a 6 - 0 lead - the quarterback rolling out to his right to find a receiver open in the back corner of the endzone. More turnovers and penalties would follow however and following a fumble recovery by the Roughnecks, kicker #4 Stuart Don would connect on a career long 49 yard attempt to half the deficit set up by a fumble he recovered whilst at FS, which was forced by #56 LB Matt McCall on a Romans run play.

The second half was to be no different in that the defences would dominate and mistakes would be made by both teams. Big plays from DL #69 Andrew Watts would send the Romans backwards time and again and the offence would keep grinding, with #16 Chris Breen hooking up deep down field with #6 Lewis Hughes and #18 Rhys Elmslie with #1 Sean Breen and #85 Rob Hayes helping in the run game and with passes from the slot. #35 Dave Obatolu would spot for #25 Diego Esquer carrying the ball as they ran behind Connor Gray, Keiran DeGabriele, Ally Howe, Jason Rhind and Andy Watts with Mark Wemmys and Josh Bahru making contributions as well. Having found Lewis Hughes down the Roughnecks sideline in the 4th quarter, QB Chris Breen would rush his side to the line of scrimmage hoping to catch the Romans on the back foot but an impressive defensive stand would see the FG unit come out to tie up the game at 6 apiece with only 11 minutes left in the game. A similar defensive stand from the Romans proceeded that one, however the Roughnecks opted to go for it on 4th down that time, coming up agonisingly short as they looked to take the lead. A missed field goal and another one blocked would see out the scoring opportunities for the rest of the game for the Roughnecks as we headed into overtime.

Using the NCAA Football Overtime rules each team would get the opportunity to possess the ball starting on the oppositions 25 yard line in a sudden death penalty shootout type finish to the game. Going on defence first the Roughnecks would look to shut down the Romans offence as they had done for large portions of the game. Defensive Linemen #44 Grant Travis, #69 Andy Watts and #90 Che Mueller had been providing pressure upfront all night, not allowing the Romans QB time to breathe in the pocket and find a passing rhythm. Linebackers Graeme Reith, Darren Henderson, Ollie Schaffmann, Daire O'Beirne and the McCall brothers Matt and Phil would help shut down the Romans running game whilst the secondary took the air out of the ball for the Romans. Corners Gamu Mukuredzi and Remi Theron keeping the Romans high-flying receiving core at bay with help at Safety from Darren Henderson and Stuart Don. Following a scoreless first attempt for both teams - the Roughnecks drive ending with a fumble - both teams would come back out looking for the endzone, this time the Roughnecks would go first and they would find their rhythm at the perfect time. Quarterback Chris Breen connected with both Rhys Elmslie and Rob Hayes down the right sideline with both doing well to remain in bounds before catching the ball. Diego Esquer would wriggle his way down field, finding holes in the Romans defence before Fullback #44 Grant Travis would take to the field on 2nd and goal from 4 yards out. It may have taken a couple of attempts and over 70 minutes of football, but the Roughnecks had their first lead of the game, 13 - 6 with the PAT following the score.

The Romans would start their second attempt brightly too getting a first down after two downs, running the ball once and passing short over the middle on second down. #90 Che Mueller would provide the pressure to force a dangerous cross body pass from the Romans QB on the following 1st down however which sparked a reaction from an overly zealous offensive lineman who would let Che know what he felt of the play. Drawing a disastrous 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the Romans would be marched back making it 2nd and 25 for the Romans who needed to score to prolong the game. Great defensive plays in the secondary would come from Phil McCall - nearly finishing the game with a difficult interception - and Ollie Schaffmann who batted down the ball on another pass attempt would leave the Romans with 4th and 25. And who else but #69 would make the play to finish the game and the season, shedding his blocker, Andy Watts would sack the Romans quarterback sending the Roughnecks sideline into raptures!

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11 games, 11 wins, and a Gatorade bath for the coaches HC/OC Ruari Collinson, DC Bryce Stevenson, and STC George Pirie. Having collected the medals all that would be left was the crowing of #69 Andy Watts as the NFC 2 Final MVP by presentation of an individual trophy and the handing over of the NFC 2 Silver Salver, held aloft by Head Coach Ruari Collinson.

On behalf of the club we'd like to thank the Northumberland Vikings and Vikings TV for hosting the final. It's a venue we've played at before and suited the occasion. Friends, families and fans are incredibly thankful for the live stream allowing them to be part of the action up in the Granite City or wherever they may have been. Thanks also to BAFA for organising the event, the medals, the trophy and the referees who have an incredibly difficult job but handled it really well!

Coaches' Words

Interim Head Coach/Offensive Co-ordinator, Ruari Collinson:

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"[I am] Unbelievably proud of what the team have achieved this season. They thoroughly deserve to be NFC 2 champions after the work they have put in this season. It was a tough game, Chester proved exactly why they should be in Div 1 next year and are a great programme that made us work extremely hard for the victory. Our D played lights out once again in the playoffs, limiting oppositions offence to just 8 points in the entire offseason is an incredible achievement for that side of the ball and they kept us in the game for large chunks of the evening. The offence struggled at times during the game both down to great defence from the opposition and some poor execution but I can’t fault the heart of the unit. They came through when it was needed and came up with those big plays to give us that go ahead score in OT to leave the D to do what they do best and get after the QB and seal the bowl game.

Preparations have already begun for next season for life in div 1 and this is just the start for us, with this squad and group of coaches we have a lot to build on and look forward to the challenge of Div 1 football next year. On a final note I’d like to thank the Roughnecks' supporters who came down to cheer us on. The noise they made in the 4th quarter and OT was outstanding and we are ecstatic that they made the journey back to Aberdeen happy."


Defensive Co-ordinator, Bryce Stevenson:

"Firstly I'd like to say full credit to Coach Levi Edwards and his players at Chester for making it such a spectacle and wish them all the fortune in Division 1 next year.

The players deserve all the credit for the victory on Saturday night. To win in overtime against the Chester Romans took something special and the way in which they kept fighting throughout the whole game was fantastic. The defence were absolutely incredible they took the game plan and ran with it. All night they stayed disciplined and gave the Chester QB no pre-snap reads and then dropped into the different coverages that we game planned for. I'm so proud of the way the team played, showing real desire and determination - not once did they waiver."

Special Teams Co-ordinator, George Pirie:

"Saturday was a great achievement for all the players and everyone involved with the Roughnecks for the work they’ve put all year long rounding off a perfect season and winning the championship. The character shown by the guys on Saturday in the face of some adversity was that of a championship team and one that deserved to win. We came back from some early missed kicks to kick a career long FG and along with guys making big tackles on ST we ensured the D had the longest field possible to work with.

Credit to the Romans who gave us one hell of a game and we’re great opponents for us in the final and a game that will prepare us well for life in division 1 next year."

MVPs

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Bud Light MVP: #69 OL/DL Andy Watts; Andy played on offence, defence and special teams all day, and was a constant thorn in the side of the Romans offensive line, running back and quarter back. Andy made plays all day long, pushing the pocket, making tackles blocking on offence and making, amongst others, the Championship sealing sack. Well Done Sir, Dilly Dilly!

Offensive MVP: #18 WR Rhys Elmslie; Rhys continued his post season form with another big outing on Saturday. He got the offence going with an early deep catch, and when called upon late in the game to get the team into field goal range, and on the game winning drive Rhys duly delivered. With two catches on the final drive of the game and a clutch sideline grab to move the chains in overtime Rhys. 

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Defensive MVP: #4 FS Stuart Don;  Stuart provided deep coverage to nullify the Romans air raid attack before having to be replaced early in the second half due to cramp, but made his mark on the game securing an interception and fumble recovery to get the ball back to the offence. And that's not to mention the two field goals to tie the game and the PAT in overtime.

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Special Teams MVP: #82 Graeme Reith; Graeme was everywhere on ST, making life extremely difficult for the returner on the punt and kick off teams and was often first to the tackle to keep us on top of the field position battle. Graeme also delivered the long snaps for the field goals and as such had a hand in 7 of the 13 points scored on the day as well.

Scorers:

Rushing: #44 FB Grant Travis

Kicking: #4 K Stuart Don 2x FG, PAT (LS: Graeme Reith, Holder: Grant Travis)

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Managing a Culture; General Manager Grant Travis' thoughts on the 2018 season ahead of Saturday's Final

You know the drill by now; This week sees the biggest game in Roughnecks history with the NFC 2 Final against the Chester Romans. We sat down with each of the coaches this week to bring you their opinion on where the team stands heading into the game, and how they view the success of the 2018 season so far. Finally for the series we have the team's General Manager, Grant Travis:

Firstly, how are you feeling ahead of Saturday?

Confident. The coaches and players have been putting the work in like they have all season and doing what they can to prepare for Chester. The new culture which has been instilled by the coaches has required everyone to buy into the project and everyone has. From getting to training, into the weight room or watching game film, everyone has bought in and it's changed the atmosphere in the camp.

Are you surprised at how far the team has gone this season?

If you asked me at the start of the year, I’d have said yes. But as the seasons gone on, it’s not as surprising. With the quality of our players and the coaching they’ve received it’s evident they have earned their place in the final. As I said with everyone buying in, they're beginning to reap the rewards for all of the hard work and each and every one of us believe we can go on and win Saturday.

Beyond Saturday, what are your goals for the club in division 1 next season and more long-term?

As always the goal is to keep developing the club, coaches and players. From the club stand point we look to expand the sport in the region which will help when recruiting new players, coaches and sponsors. This in turn allows us to go out and buy new training equipment, upgraded training facilities and more, which all goes hand-in-hand with the improvement of the squad really. The first year coaching staff have been great too, and we are looking to expand it to bring on more coaches who can help develop the players further to prove we belong in division 1 next year and that we can compete with the more established clubs in the country. A youth and junior set-up is also extremely important to the success of the club so implementing these teams are a major priority for the club long term too.