Farnham Knights

Knights tie up home field advantage

Farnham Knights 33 – 33 Solent Thrashers

The Knights secured home field advantage in the play offs with a rare tie in a nail-biting contest at Farnham Rugby Club. The Thrashers placed 2nd in the league came looking for revenge after the Knights beat them 38-30 in the first game of the season – the game was as tight as everyone predicted it would be.

The Thrashers had the ball first and completed their opening drive with a 25yd Touchdown pass from Quarterback Dayle Greenfield to Wide Receiver Joe Pascoe. The Knights put pressure on the extra point kick and as a result it missed wide left – and so came the 1st issue that could be claimed as the deciding factor – the Thrashers led 0-6

The Knights Wide Receiver Stephen Godfrey was making his return after a long lay off due to injury – it was dramatic as he raced 50yds with the kick off return to put the Knights in great field position. The Knights offense powered its way the rest of the required distance with strong runs from Gareth Davies and the final 1yd run by leading scorer Nick Roope. John Symons confidently kicked the extra point and after just one possession each the score stood at 7-6 to the Knights.

In Joshua Amis the Thrashers have a genuine threat from anywhere on the field and the Thrashers utility man showed his normal blazing speed and elusiveness to set the Thrashers up in good field position after the kick off. The Knights Defense led by Ash-Lee James dug in hard and the Thrashers were forced to punt.

In a shoot out that might have been the 2nd turning point in the game. The Knights drove confidently and runs from Gareth Davies and a penalty for pass interference against Solent put them in great field position. It was the turn of the Thrashers to dig in and the Knights were forced to go for a 27yd Field Goal which John Symons converted – the Knights led 10-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Knights Defense Swarming  Credit - Allison Berrisford

Knights Defense Swarming
Credit – Allison Berrisford

The Thrashers put together a steady drive but the Knights Defense aided by a huge sack (tackle of the QB for a loss) by Kingsley Ejiogu saw them facing 3rd down and 24yds to go – but a Knights penalty brought life back to their drive (the 3rd turning point) and they took immediate advantage as QB Greenfield found his favourite target Joe Pascoe for a go ahead score – this time the conversion was good and the visitors led 10-13.

The Teams then exchanged possession and the Thrashers drove deep into Knights territory – stopped on 3rd down by some great Knights defense they brought out their Field Goal unit – 4th turning point – the Thrashers took too long in their set up and the subsequent penalty took them out of range and they were forced to punt.

The Knights took full advantage driving down the field with great runs by Paul Wakeford and Nick Roope after taking over at their own 2yd line it was Roope who raced 15yds into the endzone to put the Knights back in front and after John Symons extra point kick the Knights led 17-13.

With little time left in the half the Thrashers were not finished – they moved the ball quickly through the air and with 32 seconds left in the half QB Dayle Greenfield ran the ball in himself from 12yds out. The extra point attempt was good and the visitors led 17-20 at half time.

The first game between these two saw the lead change hands 6 times – with 5 swings already in the first half this was destined to be a tight game with one mistake potentially determining the result.

Action from the weekend  Credit - Allison Berrisford

Action from the weekend
Credit – Allison Berrisford

The ding dong battle appeared to be continuing in the 3rd quarter as the Knights drove down the field and star WR Stealey-J Wills caught the ball at the Thrashers 5yd line and sprinted into the endzone with it, a Thrashers player then hit him and the ball came out – controversially the officials then ruled it as an incomplete pass – despite the Knights protests the ruling stood – film would later show that the score should have been allowed. (The 5th turning point)

The Knights were forced to punt and disappointment turned to disaster for the Knights as under pressure punter John Symons was forced to hurry his kick which fell into the hands of that man Joshua Amis and this time he went all the way for a touchdown – the extra point was good and the Thrashers extended their lead to 17-27 (the 6th turning point)

Having suffered a double blow it would have been easy for the Knights to crumble – but the league leaders are made of sterner stuff and the remainder of the quarter saw no points scored setting up a nail biting 4th quarter.

The Knights had the ball first in the quarter and went to the air – young star Michael Bradley-Banszki worked his magic taking a pass from QB Oli DeRuyter 63yds for a fight back touchdown. The Knights went for 2 points and Nick Roope ran the ball in to bring the score back to 25-27.

The action then became frantic as Solent powered to the Knights 13yd line – opting to go for the yardage rather than kicking a Field Goal QB Greenfield s pass was batted down by Ash-Lee James to give the Knights the ball again. (7th turning point)

The 8th turning point quickly followed as the Knights QB DeRuyter was intercepted setting up the Thrashers for a potential winning touchdown as Greenfield found Pascoe for the combinations 3rd touchdown of the day. The Thrashers led 25-33 a one point conversion would make it a two score game – but the visitors went for two points and failed (9th turning point) leaving the Knights within one score and a 2point conversion of tying things up.

Action from the weekend  Credit - Allison Berrisford

Action from the weekend
Credit – Allison Berrisford

The Knights went to the air again and Stephen Godfrey came up with a huge reception catching DeRuyters bomb of a pass for a 53yd gain. With Nick Roope now playing receiver and Gareth Davies out of the game from early in the 3rd quarter the Knights turned to their former leading rusher and record holder Kingsley Ejiogu – his powerful running behind crushing blocks saw him scamper into the endzone from 3yds out. The conversion was vital and Paul Wakeford showed all of his calm experience as he followed his blocking for the vital two points . The score stood at 33-33

There was still just one twist lefyt in the tail as the Knights Defense stopped the Thrashers and DeRuyter found Safety Ash-Lee James (playing WR) for a 35yd gain which set the Knights up for a potential game winning Field Goal – but the 10th and final turning point saw kicker John Symons attempt go narrowly wide in the gusting wind.

Luke Bridcutts sack of Greenfield on the next play was the final act in this thrilling encounter.

Knights Head Coach Steve Rains said “I am immensely proud of the team today, this was a very hard fought battle between two very good teams. Our resolve when the decision went against us and then disaster struck on the next play shows just how far we have come.

Of course we could have won this game – but then so could the Thrashers. The key for us is that this secures home field for the play offs – but we want to win the Division so our focus turns to our away trip to now 2nd placed Colchester – a win their sees us as the #1 going into the post season.”

The Knights Junior team face a crucial battle themselves when they visit the South London Renegades on the 9th August which will determine whether or not they make the post season knock out tournament.

 
OFFENSE: DEFENSE:
Passing: Ash-Lee James 4S 5A
W Masinja 3S 5A
L Bridcutt 1S 5A + 2sacks
S Price 1S 5A
A Evers 1S 5A
M Marriott 2S 2A
J Criddle 1S 3A
R Wills 4A
D Hatcher 4A
R Balderson 3A
J Symons 2S
J Vince 2A
K Ejiogu 1S 1A + 2sacks
N Chiriya 2A
S Laws 1A
A Gillard 1A
J Truelove 1A
A Makinen 1A
A Reid 1S
S Wills 1S
R George 1S
B Monk 1A
D Francis 1A
O DeRuyter 5 of 17 for 165yds  1TD 1Int
Receiving:
M Bradley-Banszki 2 for 68yds 1TD
S Godfrey 1 for 53yds
Ash-Lee James 1 for 35yds
S Wills 1 for 9yds
STATS:
G Davies 9 for 81yds
N Roope 20 for 69yds  2TD
P Wakeford 7 for 52yds
K Ejiogu 5 for 23yds 1TD
D Seabourne  2 for 7yds
KICK OFF RETURNS
P Wakeford 2 for 12yds
N Roope 1 for 14yds
S Godfrey 1 for 50yds
T Lettman 1 for 0yds
OFFENSE TOTALS:
KNIGHTS:
Rushing 43 for 232yds  3TD
Passing 5 of 17  for  165yds 1TD
TOTAL 60 for 397yds  4TD

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