Just a few days away now from our next game in the 2021 Season; a return home fixture against the London Blitz.
Sunday 27th June saw us take field against the London Blitz at Finsbury Park, London, in the first game since the Pandemic changed everything. I knew how much work we had put in but without any preseason games or scrimmages, I was not completely sure where we were as a team when it came to playing against an organised exceptional team.
The game started in sunshine and ended in a downpour.
Throughout the game the Exiles played like they belonged at that level. Sure; mistakes were made, but the level of play was the highest I have witnessed as the Exiles HC. What I saw was a greater sense of belief from those in Exiles shirts.
This was all I asked for.
Exile veteran, QB James Cook, led OC Adam Lillis’ offense well and moved the ball on the ground and in the air. Running Back, Andy Owusu, eventually scampering in with a powerful run for the opening score. Defensively, Coach Neo Edwards, saw his defence swarm to the ball, time and time again to create a very tight game.
Eventually the Blitz pulled the game back with a levelling score, but a missed extra point meant they needed a late field goal to go ahead by 2 points. As the rain came, moving the ball became more difficult, but in the last 2 minutes the defence ripped the ball from the Blitz’ running back and gave our offense one more chance. Time was against us and the Blitz came out winners by 2 points.
We didn’t get the win but we did make progress. A lot of progress. In 2019 we played the Blitz twice and gave up 84 points whilst scoring 7. As one might imagine, there was a lot of “noise” after this performance from those outside the team. Surprise, astonishment and so on. All meaningless really and our job as coaches is to quieten this down.
Such are the calibre of our coaches, that they were reviewing film that same night, identifying areas to improve on and engaging with the players to feedback the good and bad. I am under no illusion that the Blitz will come back better and more determined to re-establish themselves as the dominant force.
This Sunday we welcome them to our temporary home ground Beccahemians Rugby Club. Whist our home ground Beaverwood is redeveloped we will play all our home games here this year. Enjoy the game and get behind the team.
Coach John Moore