Falcons 35 : Sandwell Steelers 22

Leicester Falcons clinched the conference title with a hard-fought victory over Sandwell Steelers at Leicester Road on Saturday. The Falcons remain undefeated in the NFC1 South with one game to go.

 

The match started cagey, with the top two ranked defences in the division stepping up to stop each other’s running games. The Falcons made the breakthrough through the air, when quarterback Joe Brammer found Kyren Watts in the corner of the end zone from 21 yards out for a 6-0 lead. Leicester continued to press, leaning on the power running of Marcus Francis, but the Steelers defence held and limited the Falcons to two long field goal attempts which failed. Following a mishap on a punt at the start of the second quarter the Steelers gained excellent field position but linebacker James Beckett intercepted Sandwell QB Chris Varney and the Falcons defence held. Just before halftime the Falcons doubled their lead following Brammer passing to Taylor Brown, but in the very last seconds of the half the Steelers found time for a score of their own, passing down the field and hitting Kris Wedderbern in the end zone, to make the halftime score 14-7.

 

The Falcons knew they needed to start the second half fast, and succeeded, taking little time to run down the field and score through a nine-yard touchdown from Adam Gumbs. A drive later they did it again, Kyren Watts getting his second through a magnificent juggled catch under tight coverage. With the game getting away from Sandwell they needed to take risks, and after gambling on a fourth-down conversion Varney found his receiver Callum Davidson for a score.  In the final minutes Watts competed his hat-trick from 11 yards before a late consolation score for Wedderbern’s second.

 

The season is far from over, with one game to go against Doncaster Mustangs with a perfect regular season on the line, followed by the playoffs. The Falcons will need to win two rounds of the playoffs to achieve promotion to the Premier Division.