Friday, 24 February 2012

BUAFL Match Report: The Steel Bowl

Match report from the Steelbowl game between Sheffield Hallam Warriors and the Sheffield University Sabres.
Both teams pose together after a game for the ages.

Under the flood lights of Bawtry Road, in Wednesday night’s Steel Bowl, the Sheffield Sabres and Hallam Warriors met in what was expected by many to be a one-sided affair – it was anything but.

The Sabres started well when their kick off was not only kept inbounds deep in Hallam territory, but also recovered, giving their offense excellent field position. But, they could not capitalise and it was the Warriors who scored first, through RB Danny Pyle with a punishing 65 yard TD run. Hallam could not add the two point conversion, but took an important early lead 6-0.

Danny Pyle, League offensive MVP frontrunner, carries the ball through the Sabres defence
The visitors wasted no time getting back on level terms. On the next drive QB Dan Jones connecting with receiver James Sharrock for his third touchdown of the season, again the extras could not be added (6-6).

Hallam found it difficult to move the ball against the Sabres defence for much of the first half, but with 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Warriors RB Pyle again broke free, this time rushing 57 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The Warriors converted the two point conversion through James Muzonda, making the score 14-6 to Hallam.

Following the kick off, the Sabres were forced to punt on their next drive, but after the snap went over the punters head, Hallam’s Mike Whitson was able to gain possession of the ball in the Sabres’ end zone to secure their second score in quick succession. Kicker Adam Capper added the point after to give the Warriors a two score lead late in the second quarter (21-6).

Receiver James Sharrock had a great game.
Determined not to let that be the last action of the half, the Sabres offense managed to pull a score back. With 10 seconds remaining and on fourth down, QB Sam Kennett found his receiver Sharrock for his second touchdown of the game. This time it was a 39 yard pass, much to the frustration of the Hallam sideline. The two point conversion was scored – Half time: 21-14.

The late score had silenced the Hallam sideline, where the tension could have been cut with a butter knife, on the opposite side of the field the Sabres were jubilant and a performance by the Sheffield Sabrecats cheerleaders certainly enhanced their mood.

Sheffield Sabre cats perform for the crowd at half time
The Sabres began the second half with renewed confidence and after a good return by Landon White; the Sabres offense began to march up the field, on the back of solid running from running back Mark Maguire. Milo Craig capped the drive punching in the touchdown from 5 yards out to bring the visitors to within one point of their cross-town rivals.

From the kick off, Hallam too got a good return from Raymond Shaahu to midfield, but when the last defender dragged the second year back down by his facemask, the Hallam sideline erupted when the officials failed to throw the flag, instead it was 15 yards for unsportsman like conduct and with that deficit the Warriors went 3 and out.

Hallam come close to conceding again after a succession of defensive penalties providing the Sabres with a new set of downs on more than one occasion. The drive was eventually halted by a 26 yard interception from Warriors Safety Aiden Flannigan, but their drive stalled at the Sabres 30 yard line and the visitors took over on downs.

The game was incredibly physical, as you would expect from such a huge rivalry.
Into the fourth quarter and the possession would change hands twice before the next score. After good gains on the ground from Pyle and Muzonda, Sabres defensive end James Murphy recovered a fumbled from QB Chris Webber on the Hallam 35 yard line.

Back with the ball it took the Sabres only four plays to cross the whitewash again, again through receiver James Sharrock, completing a hat-trick of touchdowns, from 3 different quarterbacks. This time, it was Jacob Hardy to provide the lethal touch, utilising the screen pass. Sabres added the two-pointer on the second time of asking, after a penalty for encroachment, taking a seven point lead with five minutes remaining in the game.

Hallam had not scored in the second half and they knew that failing to score on their next possession could spell defeat. After an initial gain of 18 yards from Muzonda, the Warriors turned to veteran Danny Pyle who took the ball 29 yards in 6 carries.

James Muzonda added the crucial 2 points to win the game.
On fourth & 4, a gap opened up and Pyle made one of the defining plays of the game carrying the ball 4 yards for a new set of downs, following a close spot from the officials.
This gave Hallam’s James Muzonda the chance to eventually run the ball into the end zone from 9 yards out on 2nd and goal, to pull the home side to within just one point.

Head Coach Richard Batty decided to go for the win with a bold two point conversion, which paid off, taking the score to 29-28 in the dying minutes.

There was one final chance for the Sabres offense to cause a massive upset, but the Hallam defence stood firm to cause a turnover on downs. From here, the Warriors chose to run the clock down and the game finished with QB Jacob Muncey taking a knee to secure a hard fought win.

Sheffield Sabres Head Coach Tim Mullinar told Double Coverage:

“The most important thing was that they (Sabres) gave it absolutely everything. I thought there were fantastic plays from us on both sides of the ball. I thought that as a whole we played fantastically well and it was literally down to maybe one or two mistakes that let in the Warriors, but when you’re given those opportunities and you take them, then you’re going to win the game.

It’s one of those things unfortunately, but one for the ages, definitely one of the best games I have ever been involved with.

If we play like that and we play at that same level then we can beat absolutely anyone, it’s literally come down to a matter of two or three plays today. If we play like that I can say with absolute confidence that we can beat anyone in the country!”

Hallam Warriors Head Coach Richard Batty told Double Coverage:

“That was one heck of a game; our guys are very happy. They’ve got out of jail today.

For long periods of this game we were second best. Sabres came to play football, they’d obviously had too many people saying they were going to get handled by twenty or thirty points, you can’t do that to a football team that’s got pride in itself and has got self-respect and has got some ability.

They bounced back from a shocking result on Sunday and they’ve turned up today and they’ve kicked our butts from the very first whistle until the end. The only difference today was one point, I don’t know where that difference is, if it was on a missed field goal, maybe on an extra point or we get an extra two pointer in? They’re the very small margins.

At the end of the day, I think we’ve got out of jail and I think some of our players know that and that’s a massive wake up call for this team.

We haven’t worked half hard enough this game, we’ve been second best in far too many areas of it and the Sabres deserve all the credit today, they’ve been a credit to their university, a credit to their old boys and a credit to themselves. They were excellent, we weren’t.”

Double Coverage: Was it ever in your mind to go for the extra point, rather than the two point conversion?

“I’m one of these people that if you’re going to do something do it big, let’s have a go for the win and that was the game.

“That really was the game at that time, we were a point behind - do we go for the one point? We’ve got a really good kicker, he would have made that kick nine times out of ten, but just something said to me, when I spoke to the guys and called them out, I said ‘can you do it?’ And they said yeah and they did!”

Credit to Jingjing Liu for the excellent photography in this report. Find more on this link.


  1. I love a well written article ... anyone know where I can find one?

    1. We're sorry this isn't up to your standard Mr.Anon, if you would like to bring your talents to the Dbl Coverage team then email us at

      We look forward to hearing from you soon...

    2. It was a great game and Hallam very lucky on the night, best game so far this season, but also shows that they (Hallam)
      are beatable!


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