18 June 2017
Leicester Falcons produced a fantastic all around performance to overcome their close rivals Sandwell Steelers 42-0 on Sunday at Leicester Road. The victory, their fourth in a row, keeps the pressure on division leaders Nottingham Caesars as the business end of the season approaches. (See Pictures)
Sandwell missed their starting quarterback Callum Davidson, who was injured for this match, and replacement Joseph Reynolds threw an interception with his first pass attempt of the game to Falcons linebacker Parm Sidhu. Leicester were unable to capitalise on this however, and the two teams exchanged punts throughout the first quarter. The Falcons had the better of possession but their best drive ended in a turnover following a fumbled snap. Sandwell leant on the power running of James Jones-Cross but were unable to get into the Falcons’ red zone.
As the second quarter began Falcons running back Nat Eaves ripped off a long touchdown run that was called back for a penalty. Following a deep pass to Joe Brammer, Eaves scored the touchdown on that drive anyway, going over from three yards. The conversion attempt was blocked to give the Falcons a 6-0 lead. Sandwell were unable to move the ball as Leicester deployed an extra linebacker to halt the running game, daring Reynolds to go deep, to little success. As the half wound down Leicester scored again, Troy Lee Jackson throwing to fullback Adam Gumbs from 7 yards, to go into halftime with a 12-0 lead.
In the second half the Falcons started to run away with it. Jackson added two more touchdown passes, to Jack Verling from 29 yards and Ashton Clarke-Jackman, who took a short pass and sprinted through acres of space for a 30 yard score. The Steelers responded with their longest drive of the game, but it ended when Leicester linebacker Rob Rees sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble which was recovered by the Falcons. On the subsequent drive running back Tolu Ogundana broke away for a 38 yard rushing touchdown and a 34-0 lead. Towards the end the Falcons began to use some of their depth players but still managed to add another score, Sebastian Sansom making the interception and returning it for the team’s first defensive touchdown of the year.
The win keeps the Falcons in second place in their division, creating a two-game gap between themselves and Sandwell in third. Next up for the Falcons is an away trip to Birmingham Bulls in two weeks, before welcoming leaders Nottingham Caesars to Leicester Road on Saturday 8th July (kick off 6pm). The two upcoming games against the Caesars will be crucial to decide who wins the division and gets the best playoff seeding.