The biggest test so far of the season came on Sunday gone when the division leaders West Coast Trojans travelled to Northumberland.
As mentioned in our preview, this was not the Trojans first visit to Ashington, helping the Lightning in their final friendly associate game in December 2014.
However on this occasion, the pressure was turned up and Trojans were all business, with a point to prove. The Lightnings heaviest defeat of the season so far came in a 79-0 defeat to Newcastle Vikings just under a month ago in a game that the Lightning just didn’t turn up for.
Considering West Coast turned Newcastle over 46-7 following this game, the Lightning were always in for a tough day, but on a surprisingly sunny day in Northumberland, the Trojans came with their biggest performance of the season so far.
The first drive set the tone for the day, with HC and QB Gary McNey throwing a perfectly weighted ball to WR Kenny Hoggan for the first of 11 TD passes from McNey in a hugely impressive performance, 4 of which came in the 1st Quarter, a second for Hoggan, a catch each for WR Bryan Bleasdale and one for RB Jordan Falconer continuing the Trojans impressive season record for 1st Quarter scores and putting 30 points on the clock early without return.
The 2nd Quarter produced an identical return, this time from 3 receptions, two more for Hoggan and one for WR Kenny Hogg, before RB Jordan Falconer rushed for 18 yards to put 60 points on the board before HT and grab his second of the afternoon.
The Lightning finally began to find some momentum and moved the chains, but were stopped by a huge sack on QB Callum Pattinson, by Trojans LB Jason Gillespie who forced a fumble that was also recovered by West Coast DE Sean Carney.
Despite the scoreline, the Lightning never let their heads drop and went out into the second half determined to fight on, with the offence moving the chains well before ultimately punting back to West Coast, who made them pay when WR Bryan Bleasdale received yet another Gary McNey TD pass from close range.
Lightning Offence came back on however and this time, got the result they wanted. Some excellent blocking from the Offensive Line allowed for a perfectly executed Tight End reverse, allowing TE Ross Conley to break through the Trojans defence and rush 60 yards for a TD and sending the Lightnings sideline wild. It was a huge moment for the Lightning, who had battled throughout and served to motivate the team, even trying an optimistic 2 pointer which was stopped short of the line.
West Coast reacted instantly and drove forward to allow Bleasdale another receiving TD from 24 yards, taking McNey’s contribution to 9 entering the final Quarter.
At 74-6, the Lightning D could have been forgiven for giving up, but they kept on battling and played till the end, despite a 98-6 scoreline with, Bleasdale taking his final TD for the day, RB Josh Polson rushing for 11 yards and a final score from QB McNey and RB Chris Lang ending the game.
A huge win for West Coast and a near new division record for McNey with his 11 passes.
Despite the scoreline, the Lightning put in a much improved performance compared to previous games against Dundee and Newcastle but were undone by the experience and ability of a West Coast side who deserve to be in the higher divisions.
The addition of a well executed TD from the Offence now puts points on the board for two successive games and the team now have two weeks to regroup and focus their attention on their rematch against Dundee Hurricanes at Ashington on Sunday 31st May 2015.
The full game can be viewed on YouTube at the following link –> GAME VIDEO *Full credit to “zxspectrumgames4” on Youtube for the footage.