The Junior team arrived at Harvey Hadden for the biggest game in recent history as they prepared to take on the Lancashire Wolverine Colts in the National Quarter Final. But shortly after setting up the field, a strange series of events tested the squad to the limit.
The first problem occurred when word was received that the Colts had sustained a blown tyre on their coach in Cheshire and kickoff may be delayed whilst the problem was addressed.
As the morning preparations continued it became apparent that the 2.30pm kick off time would not be met and players were made aware of the fact that the game would be delayed. In the end, the Wolverines arrived and the game began an hour later than expected at 3.30pm
The Caesars took the first possession and ran into a brick wall following a promising first run by HB Jack Mosedale. The size of the Colts front eight made running the ball very difficult and forced the Caesars offence to look for alternatives on offense.
Lancashire's first possession ended up in the endzone but it could have been a very different outcome. The Colts runner fumble the ball on the goal line and it appeared for a split second that the defence would recover as the first player to arrive to the ball was a Caesar. Unfortunately, that player slid over the ball and a pursuing Wolverine grabbed the ball in the endzone for the opening score. The extra point was good and the score was 7-0, Lancashire.
On their next possession the Caesars began moving the ball with more success but once again the drive stalled and the Wolverines took over.
The second quarter began with the Caesars defence stifling the Colts offense bringing up fourth down. The Colts confidently ran a fake punt which appeared to have been stuffed only for the kicker to pitch the ball to a team mate for a big gain to pick up the first down. A few plays later the Colts found an open receiver in the endzone for the second score. The PAT was again converted. 14-0 Wolverines.
Then all hell broke loose!!!
Immediately after the PAT a vicious lightning storm pounded the stadium and both teams were forced to leave the field. The storm decided to hang around for much longer than would be normal and play was suspended for nearly an hour and a half! At one point it appeared that no further play would be possible but at 5.30pm it was deemed safe to resume and the remainder of the second period got underway.
The Caesars marched the ball downfield but stalled with a few seconds left in the half.
Halftime eventually arrived with the score Caesars 0-14 Wolverines.
The second half was shortened due to the weather and travel delays but was a much better one for the Caesars.
The offense took the ball from the kickoff and once again proved that they could move the ball effectively. The Colts D eventually found a way to stop the Nottingham side and once again took over. However, the second half of play belonged to the Caesars defence. Some big hits from Harrison Smith and Sam Perry set the tone and the Colts struggled to move the ball and generate any momentum.
This pattern continued into the fourth quarter and the Nottingham D created a turnover deep in Wolverine territory. Mosedale drove the ball inside the 10 yard line for first and goal for the Caesars. Unfortunately Nottingham couldn't punch the ball in and gave the ball back to Lancashire inside their own 20. The Caesar D held again and Nottingham were to have the final possession inside their own 15.
Three plays were well covered by the Colts and on 4th down Nottingham elected to pass. TE Conor Scutts attempted to catch a Joe Garton pass but was viciously hit as the ball arrived. The ball popped up into the air and a Colts defender snatched the ball and ran it back 20yards for the score. The game ended on that play and the Lancashire outfit ran out winners 20-0.
The scoreline was a little deceptive as without the last pick 6 and with a little more fortune on the fumble TD in the first half the story could have been much different.
The Caesars left the field with heads held high but obviously gutted at the premature end to their playoff hopes.
2012 has been an outstanding season for the Juniors but with the end of the season comes the inevitable break up of the current team. A number of senior players will be leaving the squad as they either begin university courses or become too old to play Junior football. The coaching staff would like to take this opportunity to thank all the outgoing players for their efforts throughout the season, including today's game and wish them all the best for their furture endeavours.
Thanks also must go to the coaching staff of Coach Young, Coach Urquhart, Coach Hill, Coach Bruckshaw and Coach Burrows for all their hard work throughout the year.
A massive thank you also goes to Junior Team Manager Gemma Martin in her first year in the role. Gemma has hit the ground running with her organisation of the team and has consistently been the trouble shooter behind the scenes to ensure that the team can take the field effectively.
The only thing that remains is to thank everyone who has supported the Juniors this season and to look forward to 2013.
Presentation evening in mid September will be a final opportunity to celebrate 2012 and bid farewell to an outstanding group of athletes. Be there if you can for awards, reviews and a few surprises!!
Thank you once again for all your support this season - 2013 preparations begin TOMORROW!!!