Northumberland (1-8) travelled up to Garscube Sports Complex this past Sunday for their final league game of the season again table toppers the West Coast Trojans (8-1) in a 2pm kick off.
The teams last met back in May, when the Trojans visited Ashington and dominated the Lightning, leaving with a 98-6 win. West Coast have since gone on to comfortably win the division and with a huge opportunity awaiting them in the playoffs, the expectation was that the Trojans may make use of their entire squad to get valuable game time.
West Coast won the toss and began with their full strength offence setting the standard. WR Kenny Hoggan received a 13 yard pass for the opening TD. Northumberland struggled to move upfield in the reverse and a blocked punt left the Trojans in an excellent field position. DE Ross Cavanagh capitalized with a 2 yard rushing TD before LB Connor Nicholson forced a fumble recovery in the end zone.
With the Lightning struggling to improve their field position and making crucial mistakes on special teams, the Trojans threatened to run riot with their powerful run game. Northumberland battled hard to try and stop this but RB Jordan Falconer who was chasing (and passed!) a career total of 11’000 rushing yards was proving unplayable and scored with a 12 yard run for the TD before a final 8 yard rushing TD from Chris Lang left the score at a daunting 36-0.
As the game entered into Q2, West Coast made the first of their squad rotation changes.
This gave the Lightning a chance to find their feet and led to a more competitive second quarter. The Trojans however scored the only points before the half, as RB Lorn Campbell rushed again from the 9 yard mark to leave the half time scores at 42-0 and a rolling clock implemented after the break.
West Coast continued to allow their backups time to play and the result was another one score affair, as Campbell yet again rushed for a TD, this time from 12 yards. The PAT failed and left the score at 48-0 heading into Q4.
The final quarter saw the Trojans look to finish strong, with WR Murray Hogg receiving a perfectly placed 35 yard pass and for the TD before RB Jordan Falconer swept for a huge 34 yard rushing score to add to his previous efforts.
Northumberland had been slowly improving on the offence throughout the game and, despite losing FB Gary Cooper after taking a huge hit and HB Reece Salkeld to a broken thumb during the game, the Lightning continued to attack, with the Offensive Line battling hard against a physical Trojans defense to try and provide protection for Northumberlands QB Callum Pattinson.
That hard work and fight paid off at the end of Q4, as every member of the Lightnings offense played their part for remarkable drive. After starting deep in their own half, Pattinson found TE Lee Davison, TE Ross Conley, WR Carl Charlton and stand in RB Ben Harris (although the latters 15 yard run was pulled back) to drive up the field, before ending the drive with a perfect pass to WR George Allsopp II to finally put points on the board.
With nothing to lose, the Lightning went for the 2 points and nearly pulled it off, however strong press coverage from the Trojans DB’s prevented Allsopp securing the ball from the short pass.
The game finished 60-6 to complete the Lightnings 10 game rookie year at (1-9), whilst the Trojans (9-1) march on to face Peterborough Saxons in the playoffs.
Whilst there was never likely to be a question over the result, the game was a good opportunity for both teams to test their squads and the Lightning, despite the defeat, showed glimpses of what they are capable of and will be looking to work hard in the post season to improve for next year.