After a well-deserved break the Sheffield Sabres looked to finish the season unbeaten at home, their final obstacle is their cross town rivals, the Hallam Warriors. With both Sheffield teams sitting in 1st and 2nd positions of the Yorkshire/Lancashire conference a win for either could mean the title and one of the top seeds in the playoffs. So the stage was set and with the Sabres needing to win by 10 or more points they set out to make a statement.
The beginning was nothing new, a brilliant 65+ yard kick-off return by #88 Harrison Bazley set the Sabres up at Hallam’s 15 yard line. After a few incompletions our first touchdown nearly came from G, #52 Fernando Conceicao after recovering a fumble on the one yard line. Regardless, it took a pass to Bazley to secure the first points of the day. With the PAT good, the Sabres took the lead 7-0.
With the defence on, it wasn’t long before the Hallam was off the pitch. Excellent tackles by CB #9 Mofi Jaiyebo and DE #55 Mo Ahmed meant Hallam were forced to punt. With the offence back on a penalty meant that a 30-yard screen to rookie RB, #39 George Condon was called back, leading to the Sabres punting the ball. However, with the Hallam returner dropping the kick, the Sabres offence were back on the 3-yard and were quick to take advantage with a quick pass to Bazley. With the PAT, the Sabres were up 14-0.
It took Hallam till the second quarter until they finally scored. A fake field goal set Hallam up at the 6 yard line for them to run it in for their first touchdown. A failed 2pt conversion put the score at 14-6. Another touchdown for Hallam soon followed as the Sabres started show cracks, incompletions and missed assignments from the defence means the score sits at 14-12.
The Sabres were soon back on top as #10 QB Sam Worrall threw to his favourite target, Harrison Bazley, for 67-yard TD to take the score to 21-12 at the end of the half.
Hallam began the half with the ball, but were quickly denied by the Sabre’s defence as LB, #31 Henrique Borges stormed through to deny a first down for the warriors. A fake punt by the Warriors at first looked to have secured the first down only for it to be called back due to an offside. With the offense back on the ball it didn’t take long for them to drive down the field, a 16-yard pass to RB, #24 Jamie Fennell and a 27-yard pass to WR, #89 Joseph Warriner put the Sabres within 4-yards of a touchdown. The Hallam defence held strong has the Sabres’ offense was pushed back, leading to S, #26 Liam Pratt to boot the 34-yard field goal to put the score at 24-12.
It didn’t took long for Hallam to find their feet again as they marched down the field as they ran it for their third touchdown of the day, after putting away the PAT, the scores sat at 24-19 at the end of the 3rd quarter. The forth quarter began with a 3 and out for the Sabres’ offense, a clear sign that the offense is struggling to maintain there first half momentum. The defence didn’t fair better either as the Warriors kept moving the chains but eventually the defence dug in, stopping the Warriors on the 22-yard line. A failed 4th down conversion put the Sabres offense back on.
Things continued to fall apart for the Sabres as a false start penalty and a low snap meant they were pinned back to their own 4 yard line. Once again the Sabres had to resort to punting the ball away. With minutes left on the clock it was do or die time for the Warriors, another stop for the Sabres would almost end the match. But it was not meant to be as the Sabres rush defence collapsed, allowing the Warriors to push down the field to score their 4th touchdown of the day, a successful 2pt conversion meant the Warriors were leading for the first time with a score of 24-27. Now the sabres were left with less than 3 minutes to score.
Step up George Condon, who managed to push the Sabres into Hallam territory with 28 yard completion. A further 9- yard run put the Sabres on the on the 15 yard line with less than a minute to go. After over shooting Harrison Bazley, another incompletion meant that the Sabres were forced to go for the field goal with the hopes of sending it to over time. Liam Pratt ensured that was the case by successfully kicking the 33-yard field goal. The score was now sitting at 27-27 with less than 30 seconds left on the clock. This game looked like it was heading to over time until a well-executed kick return by Hallam put them in Sabre territory with 17 seconds left on the clock. A miscommunication on the defence allowed the warriors to convert a 28 yard pass with 12 seconds remaining. Putting them in easy field goal range. The Sabres threw everything to block the field goal but to no avail as Hallam managed to squeeze the ball through the uprights ending the game 27-30.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Sabres who were previously undefeated at home this season. With two games left in the regular season how they react to this loss will determine whether they reach the playoffs or not.