Two years ago, the London Blitz travelled to Southampton to take on the Seahawks. We were positive that we could cause an upset and really shake up the league that year, having never beaten the Blitz, we felt this was the best chance we'd ever had. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, an unfortunate injury to our game changing linebacker, Nick Bergamschi, and a whistle happy ref meant we left a tight game with a defeat. This weekend, the Blitz again travelled to Southampton, again we felt we had a chance to upset the odds, again we were positive. However, the rub of the green wasn't on our side, and the result was tantalising out of our reach...again.
Coming into the game, we knew it went going to be a backs against the wall, with the offence having to work hard for every yard. Thats exactly how the game started, a quick three and out with no yards gained gave the ball to the Blitz. With the first play of the game the Blitz set out their stall with a tough run from one of their two running backs. It wasn't enough for a new set of downs and the Blitz punted the ball on 4th down. The Seahawks defence have had a great season, and today was arguably the best we have seen from them so far. Linebackers Toby Naylor and Adam Deverill each recorded 16 total tackles in the game, which is a club record they now share. The whole defence spent a hard funnelling the Blitz run game inside and into the two Bristol Pride backers.
On the second Blitz offensive drive they showed the qualities that have not seen them beaten for over two years. Some strong running and lovely pass to the Seahawks 5 yard was then followed by a short run for a touchdown. The 2 extra point attempt was unsuccessful and the Blitz would hold on to end the first quarter 6-0 up. It would have been easy for the Seahawks to let their heads drop and think 'here we go again!', but that's not what this team is made of! They stuck to the gameplan and continued to frustrate the Blitz.
The Seahawks continued to struggle to find any holes in the Blitz defence. Ollie Clemo put in a great shift, absolutely fighting for every yard. By the end of the day he had clocked up 40 yards from 18 carries, everyone of those 40 yards was earned!! After a series of three and outs for both teams, and the vast majority of the play being between the 30 yard lines, the Blitz pushed hard towards the end of the half. A bad snap on the punt meant Owen Newman had to run with the ball and try and salvage the play, the Blitz Defence swarmed and brought him down. The Blitz would start their drive inside the Solent 15 yard line, a real threat. The Blitz QB had a matter of seconds and two attempts to give the Blitz more of a cushion at halftime, not for the first time, the Solent DB's had other ideas. Tight coverage by Sam Gee and some more pressure by the LB's meant the Blitz couldn't take their opportunity and the score was 6-0 Blitz at half time.
So far the game was going to plan, keep the score close and look to capitalise in the second half and grab a winner. In the second half, Solent were going to have to take more risks and try and force mistakes out of the Blitz.
The third quarter continued in the same vein as the first and second. Solent offence worked hard but were being held at bay. The defence were playing resolute football, setting the edge consistently and each player working as part of a unit to stifle the attacks. Although Owen didn't get the chance to kick any extra points during the game, his consistent punting meant the Blitz rarely had favourable field position at the start of their drives.
The chance the Seahawks were waiting for came in the third quarter when the overly optimistic Blitz punter tried to run the ball on 4th and long on his own 29 yard line. Toby Naylor had other ideas and stopped him advancing the ball at all. The offence would have their best starting field position. A 5 yard pass, a sack and a short run would mean they would have to go for it on 4th down, although the field goal was within range for Owen, a touchdown was needed. Blitz D haven't conceded a single point all season and that wasn't going to change on this drive unfortunately! A great read and an amazing interception meant that Benzey found himself chasing the ball carrier down to make the tackle. That would prove to be the best opportunity for the Seahawks to get on the board.
There was time for the defence to show exactly what they are about, and this time it was Andrew Banda. A fumble meant that the Blitz had the ball in the Solent redzone and had another chance to put the game out of sight. A fade to the right corner of the end zone was picked by Banda, a beautiful read and a difficult high point catch kept the score close.
The game settled back into the rhythm of back and forth between the 40s. Following a hold on Toby the Blitz ran the ball from their own 38 yard line. The Blitz running back finally broke through the Seahawks defence and ran the 62 yards into the end zone. There was a possible hold on Toby again, but this time the refs didn't throw their flags. 12-0 Blitz and the hopes of a smash and grab win for the home team looked out of reach.
With little time on the clock and pride fast becoming the only thing to play for, the Seahawks offence turned up the tempo and four catches in a row from Tom Phillips showed what was possible. Unfortunately it was too late and the clock ran out. 12-0 agains the national champions is no disgrace. The Seahawks defence showed just why they are though of so highly and kept the Blitz to just 12 points in the game; their lowest score since at least 2012! (I cant find records going back further than that!)
Many positives to take into the last two games, and although post season football isn't out of reach, it's going to be tough.