Match Report – Northumberland Lightning @ Aberdeen Roughnecks 28.6.15

11150819_868494953215756_3460927389130875288_nSunday saw the Lightning travel back up to Scotland for the third time this season to play the Aberdeen Roughnecks at Hazlehead Park.

Injuries determined Northumberland could travel with a squad of approximately 24 players for their first game against the Roughnecks, who were 3-3 going into the game, sitting in the middle of NFC North 2 and hoping to push up the table with a home win.

The weather in Scotland was unpredictable as usual, going from a deluge of rain, to blistering sun and back again within the first half as Aberdeen began with a solid run game, Ollie Schaffman ending a powerful opening drive for the Roughnecks with a 1 yard TD run, followed by the extra point.

Northumberland struggled to get their offence going in the first quarter, with the Roughnecks defence holding well and forcing the Lightning to punt away repeatedly. Aberdeen’s offence made the most of this possession and it was Schaffman who struck again with another run, this time from 18 yards. Roughnecks again were successful with the extra point, taking them to 14-0.

Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

Heading into Q2, Aberdeen struck again, this time receiver Adam Bennett was picked out with an 18 yard throw from QB Ash Sarcevic. The Roughnecks kicked the extra point again, before Scott McDonald added a 24 yard field goal towards the end of the quarter, taking the half time score to 24-0 and leaving the Lightning struggling with the rolling clock approaching.

Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

Half time however saw a change of tactics and a change of personnel for the Lightning, with Reece Salkeld again temporarily stepping into the QB role as he had done against Glasgow and hoping to drive the offence forward.

It was however the Lightning defence who struck first early in Q3, with Safety Jordan Nellis rising high to intercept an Aberdeen throw, before driving down the pitch for a 54 yard return TD.

Aberdeen struck back with another TD pass from Sarcevic, who threw 32 yards to receiver Rhys Elmslie, followed by another extra point leaving the score at 31-6.

Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

Just when Northumberland began to move the ball well, Aberdeen had their own interception from Ross Elrick, who ran on for 33 yards to take the score to 37-6, followed by a further extra point.

Moving into Q4, the Roughnecks pulled away further with Schaffman made another 1 yard TD run, however this time there was no extra points and the game sat at 44-6.

Northumberland surprisingly then put together their best spell of the game, receiving the ball back from the kick off, only for Jordan Nellis to get his second of the game by returning the ball the entire distance. Northumberland had nothing to lose and went for the 2 points but failed in their attempt.

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Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

The Lightning defence then forced Aberdeen back towards their own goal line and into a punt. That momentum gave the Northumberland offence a boost and TE Ross Conley attempted to score his fourth TD in as many games when he burst through the line, however the play was pulled back for holding.

Not to be disheartened, Northumberland continued to move the chains and took the ball up to Aberdeen’s goal line. This time, FB Scott Radford burst through for the score.

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Photo credit: Gilles Gardner

Northumberland again decided to try for the 2 points and were finally successful when Salkeld rolled out of his pocket and picked out receiver George Allsopp to take the Lightnings second half (and total) score to 20, leaving the final score at 44-20.

A disappointing day for Northumberland, however they can take a lot of positives from their second half performance, particularly in Q4 when they continued to play right until the end and were rewarded with an improved scoreline.

The Lightning now only have 1 week to heal up their injuries and prepare for an away fixture much closer to home, as they play Newcastle Vikings on Sunday 5th July.

Northumberland and Aberdeen will meet again on Sunday 26th July when the Roughnecks visit Ashington Rugby Club for the reverse fixture

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