Leicester Falcons 25 – Sandwell Steelers 12
Leicester Falcons opened their season with a win against close rivals Sandwell Steelers at Hadley Stadium, Birmingham on Sunday. The new-look offence ran in three touchdowns and the defence limited the fancied Steelers offence to take home a solid 25-12 win.
After a cagey start from both teams, Leicester moved into field goal range but missed the goal attempt after a high snap. Sandwell got the ball back but a disastrous series of mistakes and penalties led to 4th and 52, and the Steelers chose to take a deliberate 2-point safety to get better field position. The Falcons finally made the breakthrough when, choosing to gamble and keep their offence on the field and fourth down, quarterback Joe Brammer found debutant Alex Preece in the comer of the end zone for a touchdown and a 9-0 lead. Sandwell struck back just before halftime when quarterback Tristan Varney led a long drive which was capped off by running back James Jones-Cross plunging over the line from one yard out. The conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 9-6 at halftime.
Leicester came out all guns blazing in the second half and only took three plays to find the end zone, when Brammer completed deep to Preece and another debutant, running back Marcus Francis, ran in for an 18 yard score. The Falcons doubled down and scored again on their next drive, this time from Tolu Ogundana from 16 yards, making the lead 22-6. Sandwell kept it competitive, replying with a score of their own through a swing pass to receiver Callum Davidson, but in the fourth quarter the Falcons defence stepped up to keep the Steelers out of range, adding a field goal through Dan Burton for a final score of 25-12.
“To have such a big game up first is always challenging and so I’m pleased we came away with the win and a big performance” said General Manager Guy Kersey. “The first game of the year is always nervy because you never really know where you are in relation to other teams, but we got the job done on offence in particular”.
Next up for the Falcons is their first home match of the season, welcoming Coventry Jets to Leicester Road, Hinckley next Sunday. Leicester Falcons pride themselves on providing one of the best gameday experiences in the country at Leicester Road, with cheerleaders, live commentary and food and drink. Kickoff on Sunday (22nd) is 2:30pm.
Report by Joel Pearson. Photos by Karen Turner – #3 is Marcus Francis, #6 is Tolu Ogundana
Touchdowns from Alex Preece, Marcus Francis and Tolu Ogundana, plus a field goal from Dan Burton and a safety.
Game MVPs : Chris Hoyte (ST) Rob Rees (DEF) and Adam Gumbs (OFF)