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.
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.
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:
“[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
DMVP: #69 D/OL Matt McCall
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!
FG: #4 K Stuart Don (35 Yards) S: #20 Darren Henderson H: #44 Grant Travis
Interception: #22 FS Gamuchirai Mukuredzi