Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Stirling Clansmen vs. Edinburgh Predators Game Report

Stirling (4-0) overwhelmed Edinburgh (1-3) on Sunday to extend their lead at the top of the Saltire Conference. Stirling made the most of their new campus all-weather facility, as the inclement weather forced for a number of cancelled games throughout the UK but the game was still played in cold and wet wintry conditions.

And while the weather played a part in slowing both teams passing attacks, the Clansmen were still able to effectively run the ball to rack up no less than seven rushing touchdowns. The first of which came on Stirling’s opening drive, when fullback Zake Muluzi broke free behind some excellent blocks from his offensive line to peel off a 71 yard score. Craig Black added the extra point to make the score 7-0.

Stirling’s defence held firm all game and set the tempo by forcing the Edinburgh defence off the field on their first two drive attempts, the latter of which resulted in a 51 yard punt return for a touchdown from Grant Isdale. In cold and wet conditions though, the Clansmen were eventually forced to punt on their next drive but the Stirling defence quickly put that right with defensive tackle Carl Lay recovering a fumble on the very next play. From the resulting drive, Muluzi got on the scoreboard again, with another rushing touchdown straight down the gut of Edinburgh’s defence, who seemed to be unable to cope with the big fullbacks aggressive downhill running style.

Stirling’s defence again managed to turn the ball over on the very next drive, with defensive end Fraser Neill recovering the forced fumble, from which Muluzi again scored on the resulting offensive series.

With both sides still struggling to pass the ball effectively, Stirling again turned to their run game which continued to prove equally as potent as their vaunted passing attack, with halfback Stewart Bicker scoring on a 39 yard rushing touchdown for the Clansmen.

Stirling were eventually forced to punt again on their next drive but once more their defence stood strong when free safety Kyle Zahariev intercepted a floated Edinburgh pass. From the great field position the Stirling offence capitalised once more, with Grant Isdale running the ball in for a 15 yard touchdown on the next play.

The Clansmen went into half time with the score at 43-0.

On Stirling’s opening drive of the next half the offence failed to score, but just like the first half, the defence got the ball back quickly and even added a score of their own, when Linebacker Ty Larsen intercepted a pitch option and returned it for a 40 yard touchdown. Coming towards the end of the 3rd quarter though, the Predators managed to string together a couple of first downs. However, the Stirling defence was relentless in their pursuit of a shutout and still managed to prevent a score from their opponents by forcing yet another fumble. And from that offensive series, Muluzi again pushed the Clan ever further ahead with another rushing touchdown from 41 yards out.

With Coach Orr now introducing most of the Clansmen’s second string players and rookies into the game, it was clear that Stirling’s plan was to begin to run the clock down without further incident, as the game progressed into the 4th quarter.

Suddenly though, halfback Isdale, who was himself returning from a three week layoff through injury and therefore still on the field to help him regain some match fitness, came out of nowhere to make a great catch over the middle from backup quarterback Kenny Mackay, to score from 75 yards out.

The Predators managed a consolation score late in the fourth quarter when they found a hole in the rookie defensive coverage and managed to add the extra point too but the Clansmen responded quickly with yet another breakaway touchdown by halfback Stewart Bicker on the very next series to finish the game off.

After his sides 72-7 victory, Coach Orr said, “I know the score looks impressive but I honestly think that was the worst we have played as a team since this campaign started. The conditions didn’t help though, so I suppose some allowances should be made for that but it was still a very sloppy display, with many aspects of our play simply not at the standard we expect” Orr continued “Next week is Napier, who I felt caused us more problems than Edinburgh did today, so it is time for our players to either start fulfilling their potential, or risk losing their starting spots. The good news though is that the lads know they have to improve, so next week should hopefully see them give a much better performance.”

The Kilted Kangaroo MVP was Grant Isdale, who dominated on his return from injury.

The Clansmen’s next home game is Sunday 2nd December at home against the Napier Knights. Kick-off is at 11:45am.

by Craig Black

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