One week after the Superbowl and Newcastle Raiders travelled down the East coast to face Hull Sharks, a game which arguably made for a more exciting result than the Rams v Patriots.
The Raiders found themselves frustrated in the first half; the defence holding out, offering the Sharks very few yards, with regular turnovers of possession courtesy of interceptions made by defensive backs. Despite best efforts the offence failed to score any points before half time. A two-point safety for Hull meant that they led perhaps unjustly at the end of the second quarter, 2-0.
After a motivating half time team talk, the Raiders looked considerably more alive and ready to do some damage, which was converted into a touchdown by rookie running back Michael Atementaka, after breaking multiple tackles and running over half the field. This is fast becoming a trademark of the No.95, who scored three against Glasgow two weeks ago. The two point conversion was sealed with a pass route to put the raiders 8-2 up.
Before the celebrations could finish however, an array of fouls against the Raiders had the team pushed back to the 5 yard line with the Sharks in possession, allowing a touchdown for the Sharks to level the score by the end of the third quarter. The only positive to take was a blocked conversion by Liam Mills (aka. Hagrid), to deny Hull any conversion points and keep the score level at 8 a piece coming into the final quarter.
The Raiders pressed for the win in the final quarter with the defence again allowing Hull no opportunity to take advantage. It looked as though Newcastle would be held to a disappointing draw until with three and half minutes of game time remaining, James Cross found himself in the endzone unmarked and able to make a catch for the touchdown, his second in as many games. With the offence having done their part, it was for the defence to hold down the win for the final few minutes. Not only did the defence subdue the Hull offence, a pick-6 by rookie linebacker Will Stephen, completed with an excellent run that any running back would be proud of, extended the Raider’s points tally over the Sharks, putting the nails in the coffin for Hull in the final moments to end the game 22-8.
The game MVPs were awarded to Joel Sandilands (DB), Yacine Meziane (LB), Will Stephen (LB) and Jay Layfield (OL).
The result against Hull places the Raiders at joint top of the league with Northumbria, with a game in hand over the Northumbria. Having won every game this season, Newcastle finds themselves in a very strong position for making the playoffs but must first face off Northumbria on the 17th Feb and again on the 20th Feb. Both offence and defence are excelling in training and are certain they can beat Northumbria to top the league. Bring on the Poly!!!