West Coast Trojans 2 Yorkshire Rams 20
The Rams ensured the long trip home from Scotland would be a celebratory affair after another rock-solid defensive performance set up a well-deserved victory to lift the team to 6-2 on the season.
Trailing to an early safety, the Rams led by half-time thanks to Andrew Cheeseman‘s touchdown.
Tyler Broad returned the second-half kick-off for a score and quarterback Taylor Umland hit Christian Davies for another, with Matt Ward-Stead later denied by a penalty flag.
Both offences struggled to get going early on, with players slipping or struggling to handle the ball in the wet conditions, and the first quarter was dominated by punts.
On one of these, Lysander Code’s high snap put Charlie Vincent in trouble and the Rams punter was tackled in his own end zone for a safety. His knee was fortunately down before an ill-advised shovel pass straight to an opposing player, limiting the damage to two points rather than six – but it was not to be Vincent’s last adventure of the day.
The focus shifted to the offence, though, as Umland got the passing game moving and eventually hit Cheeseman in the corner of the end zone. The two-point conversion failed and after further exchanges of punts, allowing the ageless Spencer Whybrow to show his continued value with some bone-jarring hits, a Rams field goal was blocked to leave the half-time score at 6-2.
The second half was delayed slightly as paramedics arrived to attend to Rams cornerback Bill Wakefield, who had reported delayed feelings of dizziness after a hit on the opening kick-off. He was taken to hospital but was happily cleared of any major damage and was able to rejoin the team on the bus home.
The second half started in style as a well-run kick-off return left Broad with open space down the right and three blockers ahead of him for an unhindered joyride into the end zone. The two-point conversion made it 14-2.
A Trojans sack backed the Rams up to the one-yard line and Vincent did well to get a punt out of the end zone to halfway. It was muffed by the Trojans returner, with Faheem Hasan and Keimar Stuart just unable to come up with the turnover.
Linebacker James Hudson‘s interception created a short field for the Rams and they took advantage with some power running from recent signing Liam Austin and a long touchdown pass from Umland to Davies.
That was the end of the scoring, though the fourth quarter witnessed a bizarre series of events starting when Umland’s long touchdown pass to Ward-Stead was ruled out by an offensive pass interference call on the receiver.
Jonny Dudley tacked on a further 15 penalty yards by running onto the field to celebrate the ‘touchdown’ with close friend Ward-Stead, leaving the Rams facing first and 40. Lineman Greg Hodgson summed up the feeling – “Touchdown… oh, okay, we’re in our own half.”
With no progress on the three downs, head coach David Pawson took another spin on the Charlie Vincent Special Teams Fruit Machine – the South Leeds Stadium faithful will remember Vincent’s field goal/punt hybrid the last time we faced West Coast. This time he corralled another awkward snap but, struggling to grip the wet ball and with rushers bearing down on him, resorted to an extraordinary discus-style pass which Ward-Stead somehow brought in – though the eight-yard gain was not enough for a first down.
A conventional punt later pinned the Trojans deep and another defensive stop and a kneel-down ended a routine win, leaving the team to celebrate in the changing room and throughout the ensuing hours on the motorway.
Offensive MVP: Christian Davies
Defensive MVP: Lysander Code
Rookie of the Day: Keimar Stuart
Ram of the Day: Spencer Whybrow