Sheffield Predators 37 – 7 Yorkshire Rams
Written by Tom White
The Yorkshire Rams’ battle against relegation ended in disappointment as defeat to local rivals the Sheffield Predators saw the team’s fate sealed.
The Rams, with a roster largely consisting of rookies, had opened the season with a superb win over the same opposition back in April but were unable to repeat the feat in the make-or-break finale at the Sheffield Hallam University Sports Ground – indeed, the match was a microcosm of the season as a whole as the Rams made a flying start but were unable to capitalise.
Anticipation was high beforehand and it translated into early points as, after a long pass intended for wide receiver Spencer Whybrow was tipped away at the last moment, second down saw running back Elliott Jackson race from his own 31-yard line up the right sideline and all the way for a touchdown.
James Hudson slotted the extra point and he and the Rams’ special teams were immediately to the fore again as his onside kick was recovered by Jack Hill to keep the visitors in possession – but the follow-up drive stalled with a harsh penalty flag and forced punter Tom Dunford into action.
The Predators were also forced to punt but as the Rams offence stalled, the home side were soon able to level the scores with a short touchdown pass – and two short running scores before half-time, the second on a QB keeper, left the Rams 21-7 down and facing an uphill battle in the second half.
Rams quarterback Dan Berry demonstrated his own running skills at the start of the second half but the play was brought back for a holding penalty and despite an excellent Whybrow grab for a first down, the offence were unable to sustain a drive – and a safety at the end of the third quarter extended the deficit to 23-7.
The Preds’ passing game then came to fore in the final stanza, two touchdowns taking them out of range and leaving the Rams facing the reality of relegation. As frustration set in, tempers briefly flared on the sideline after Ross Hammond was taken out by a dubious block, with a water bottle thrown onto the field sparking a shoving match. The team regained their composure and a sideline scamper from Daunte Wint-Angus raised hope of a defiant late score – but as the final play slipped away, there was to be no final flourish.
So Division One beckons but with a year’s experience under their belts, an enthusiastic young roster will be looking to bounce back at the first attempt and battle the elite once more