The Wembley Stallions women’s team have won the 2017 Sapphire Series Division II South and East title after shutting out Portsmouth Dreadnoughts in a title deciding clash.
Scores of 52-12 against Oxford Saints and 24-0 against Portsmouth Dreadnoughts earned The Stallions the divisional series on home soil, with Women’s Head Coach Andrew Kendall stating “13 individuals performed as a team.”
Four first half touchdowns and a stout defensive performance shocked the Dreadnoughts who came into the weekend seeing themselves as favourites for the title.
The first round of fixtures on the day saw Wembley play off against Oxford Saints. It didn’t start as planned with Oxford taking an early lead, however Wembley were quick to respond, with Angie Sowerby running the ball into the end zone, the conversion complete to Grace Hilbourne.
Head coach Andrew Kendall opened the trick play draw with a flea flicker, QB Emma Arnold and RB Chloe Flowers link up to extend the lead. The defence were also making big plays, forcing a fumble in the Oxford half, however the offence couldn’t capitalise.
Oxford made things interesting by running the ball for 6 once again, and drops in the end zone just before half time saw the score at 14-12 to the Stallions going into the break.
The start of the second half saw some dramatic action. Wembley started with the ball. A throw from Emma Arnold was intercepted by the Oxford defence, but showing true character, Wembley forced another fumble, recovering the ball and giving themselves 4 more downs to move the ball.
The drive was capped off when Emma Arnold connected with Tamarra Croucher, with the conversion once again finding Grace Hilbourne.
Oxford tried to get back into the game, but Wembley’s defence held out strong on their own 2-yard line. After coming back out on offence, Angie Sowerby ran in another touchdown. Further touchdowns from Chloe Flowers and Grace Hilbourne gave Wembley a 44-12 lead.
The game was topped off with a pick 6 for Lina Malten, the resulting completed conversion gave Wembley a 52-12 victory.
With Portsmouth beating Peterborough in the first round of the days’ fixtures, the game between Wembley and Portsmouth would decide who came out on top in the division.
The two best defences in the division proved so, with both teams being held to a 4 and out.
Portsmouth who originally looked to run the ball tried to move the ball with the pass but failed to do so. After a turn of possession, Emma Arnold linked up with Grace Hilbourne once again for a 30-yard touchdown.
Portsmouth gained their first, first down in response, however failed to pass the ball into the end zone.
Wembley came out once again and eventually saw Angie Sowerby find her way to the house once again, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful once again as Wembley led 12-0.
A false start on the first play of Portsmouth next drive pushed them 17 yards away from a first down. The Wembley D piled on the pressure forcing a fumble and recovering on the Portsmouth 3-yard line.
The chance was capitalised on with Chloe Flowers receiving the ball in the end zone. Portsmouth tried to respond once again, however failed to get past a resilient defence.
The play of the game came with 23 seconds left for #23. A wonderfully executed one handed catch from Grace Hilbourne gave QB Emma Arnold her 4th touchdown pass, and Wembley a 3-score lead going into the half.
Soon after the second half began Wembley had the ball in the end zone once again through Angie Sowerby, however a holding foul called the play back. Portsmouth forced a fumble and took over possession diving on top of the ball on the Wembley 8-yard line.
Wembley remained firm once again and stopped Portsmouth from mounting a comeback. Another possession from each team saw both teams defence hold out strong, with Delta Npuna piling the pressure on the Portsmouth quarterback, and Demi Adesanya denying the run game.
Another Wembley touchdown was called back for a holding foul, and with 5:40 left Portsmouth looked to get back into the game. Ny Clarke-Williamson stepped up late on with a big hit to stop which could have become a scoring play, as well as pulling off an interception to deny Portsmouth any points in the game. As well as earning the Stallions the divisional title.
After the game Women’s Head Coach Andrew Kendall emphasised the steep learning curve which the team has gone through, throughout the season. Stating “It is better as a coach to be around players who want to learn and want to win.”
Wembley Stallions Head Coach and Chairman Warren Smart applauded the amazing achievement from the women’s team, and ahead of the senior teams season said that it should motivate all teams around the club to perform to the standard the women have set.
Next up for the Wembley Stallions Women’s team will be an exhibition game against London Warriors who could arguably be regarded as the biggest women’s team in London. Coach Kendall noted that it will be a step up in class for his team, but after the days’ performances, they will be ready.