NB: Because this game was streamed live by UKAFL you can watch the full game from Druid’s Park back, on demand via YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GPk0noXYDE&t=1
Returning to the scene of our most famous victory, we took to the field on the final day of our 2019 season looking to confirm a third place finish in the division, and to play spoiler for the Northumberland Vikings who were looking to take the division crown.
The Vikings however had other plans and they looked to get off to a good start with a long drive that would begin to enter scoring territory. However the Roughnecks defence stood strong, with defensive backs covering receivers long enough to allow the land-sharks up front on the defensive line to smother the evasive Vikings QB deep in the back field and force an early punt. The defence would however see a lot of the field in the early stages with long Northumberland drives pushing deep into Roughneck territory, but each time the defence would slam the door shut, holding Northumberland to two field goals in the first half. The Roughnecks offence too were giving the Vikings something to think about, as they worked their way into the game, lead by QB #18 Rhys Elmslie making only his second ever start at the position, with TEs #85 Rob Hayes and #88 Aaron Michie both making plays in the receiving game.
HT: Aberdeen Roughnecks 0 - 6 Northumberland Vikings
The second half would see the Roughnecks offence continue to find there feet, with Rhys finding receivers with passes, and running backs finding holes in the Northumberland defence to run through. Looking to flip the script - and the scoreboard - of the game, Rhys would find #85 TE Rob Hayes who’s contested catch through a defender would see the game tied at 6 apiece. We could almost hear the cheers from East Kilbride as the Pirates went back to the summit of the division - having finished their season a week earlier - but it would be short lived. Following a blocked PAT, the ensuing kick-off would lead to disaster as Northumberland’s returner found a wide lane through the kick-off team, returning the ball all the way to the endzone, immediately making it 12 - 6 with the PAT stretching that deficit to 7. The defence would continue to stand strong only allowing one more field goal in the game, with turnovers (Notably by #95 DL Winston Ojei) helping to get the offence back on the field. And despite taking opportunities to move the ball well in the second half, costly mistakes would rear their head and stifle any attempts to tighten up the game.
FT: Aberdeen Roughnecks 6 - 16 Northumberland Vikings
A tough and tight game for most of the afternoon and one which sees everyone involved able to hold their head high after pushing the division winners close and really testing their reserve. Throughout the year there were some great highs and some opportunities missed which were costly in close games, but ultimately the Roughnecks have secured at least another year in the second tier of the BAFANL structure and will look to learn from the experiences. With the Yorkshire Rams and Glasgow Tigers finishing their season with a 14-12 game in favour of the English outfit, we were able to secure 3rd place in the division due to our superior head-to-head records against both teams since we all finished with a 4 & 6 record. Onto 2020…
Offensive MVP: #18 QB Rhys Elmslie
Rhys played a very calm and assured game for only his second game under centre. Facing a tough Vikings defence Rhys was able to find pockets of space for his receivers, and make plays on the ground with his legs to keep the chains moving. His touchdown pass came under heavy pressure on a fourth down, but he found Rob Hayes in the endzone well and gave the Roughnecks a foothold (albeit one which was ultimately squandered) in the game.
Defensive MVP: #22 FS Gamuchirai Mukuredzi
Gamu gave up nothing in the passing game in a game where the Vikings would try and test the deep ball often, but his blanket coverage would allow linemen second chances at sacks and force the Vikings QB out of the pocket. He would also step up and play the run well, making multiple tackles to slow the Vikings offensive production and get his guys off the field!
MVP: #85 Rob Hayes
In what will turn out to be Rob’s last game for the Roughnecks he led by example on both sides of the ball, scoring a touchdown and stuffing the run game. His score typified his time in a Roughnecks jersey, as he battled back to the ball with defenders close to make the catch and secure the points. And it was more of the same on defence as Rob commanded that side of the ball from middle linebacker in a typically assured performance.
Receiving:#85 TE Rob Hayes (Thrown by #18 QB Rhys Elmslie)