The GB Lions, made up of a number of players that spanned across all three nations, play host this week to the Women's European Championships in Leeds. The John Charles Centre for Sport, where each of the fixtures will be played, saw Finland open the tournament with a 50 - 0 win over Austria, and the evening fixture saw GB face up against Sweden, for the Lions first game of the tournament.
Following the conclusion of the national anthems, Team GB’s captains: Phoebe Schecter, Laura Dye, Amanda Humphrey and former Steeler Becky Martin, took to the field for the coin toss. With Sweden winning the toss and electing to defer to the second half, Great Britain’s Offense received the ball, with London Warriors’ Siobhan Walker returning the starting kick.
Following a brief stint of penalty delays, impressive runs from Antoinette Morgan and Ruth Matta of the Birmingham Lions, saw the Offense make solid progress up the field and, after two imposing QB runs from Birmingham Lions’ Sydney Green, a fantastic grab from Emma Taylor saw the GB Lions to 4th down; with only 2 yards required, an attempt to convert the down proved unsuccessful and saw possession transferred to Sweden for the first time in the game.
Starting out the drive with a running play, an incredible stop from Aimee Cottingham, of the Birmingham Lions, saw the Swedish running back tackled for the loss of a yard. Following which, a completed pass to Karin Ullen of the Carlstad Crusaders, saw a full length run of the field and an outstanding touchdown scored within the first quarter; the extra point, however, was no good, after a sack on the ball holder, by Phoebe Schecter of GB.
After a run from Ruth Matta was brought back for a holding penalty, a QB keep from Sydney Green took the game to the end of the 1st quarter. Opening up the second quarter was a run from Hertfordshire Tornadoes’ Oli Davies, but a blitzing Swedish linebacker saw her stopped, with GB’s Nancy Stone taking to the field to punt the ball back to the Swedish offense.
Opening up with an attempted pass, Sweden saw the play broken up by Leeds Chargers’ Lucy Peaty, who stopped the ball reaching its intended receiver- following which, a run from the Swedish QB was halted by Special Teams Captain Becky Martin, and after a pass to Sweden’s #82 fell short of the marker, the ball was punted back to GB- which saw a 20 yard return from the Lions’ Ruth Matta.
A completed pass to Siobhan Walker and a run from Antionette Morgan saw GB’s offense to 3rd down and 1 and, following a QB run that fell short of the first down, GB elected to punt the ball.
The drive began with some pressing defensive play from GB’s Monica Lewinska, Cayley Parnell and Amanda Humphrey, and an attempted pass in the centre of the field saw an outstanding interception from Phoebe Schecter, and the ball turned over to GB possession.
Accepting the kick was GB’s Ruth Matta, who returned the ball for a 30 yard gain; however, shortly after the two minute warning, some impressive defensive coverage from Sweden saw a turnover on downs.
With defense truly on the show in the second quarter, some dominance from GB saw the Swedish offense shut down, and the ball punted directly into the hands of Ruth Matta, who returned the ball for a 40 yard run, only to be brought back to the 39 yard line for a penalty flag. An outstanding grab from Siobhan Walker saw GB make a 20 yard gain, and two incredible blocking displays allowed Matta to make further progress up the field; however, an insightful interception from Sweden’s #24 saw the ball turned over to the opponents, who took a knee and brought the first half to a close.
Half Time: Sweden 6 - 0 Great Britain
Returning from the half time break, Sweden accepted the kick off and were tackled at the 38 yard line where, following a direct snap to Karin Ullen, #84 was tackled for a loss of 3 yards. A pass break up from Siobhan Henry and a tackle from Becky Martin saw the opponents fake a punt, with Sweden’s #84 running the ball, before being tackled by Amanda Humphrey. After further defensive solidarity from GB, a 4th down conversion attempt was stopped- and the ball returned to the Lions’ offense.
Some solid blocking from Leeds Chargers’ Robyn Steward, saw Ruth Matta able to pick up strong yardage on two good running plays, followed up by an unsuccessful pass attempt from the GB offense; however, an outstanding weaving run, on the third play of the drive, saw Ruth Matta intersect the Swedish defense, and run almost 80 yards to score GB’s first touchdown of the tournament.
With GB unable to capitalise on the extra point opportunity, Sweden returned with two runs for short gain, followed by an impressive first down run from the Swedish #22, who was tackled by a diving Phoebe Schecter next to the Swedish sideline. Ending the third quarter, after receiving a penalty for delay of game, Sweden attempted some more passing plays to pick up yards, however, were stopped at the 30 yard line and saw their field goal attempt denied.
Returning to the field with a number of attempted running plays, some tight defensive play from Sweden saw the offense closed down and Nancy Stone return to the field to punt the ball away.
After an attempted run and QB keep from Sweden, an incredible reverse play saw a sweeping run down the right sideline, giving the opponents strong field position in the Lions’ half. Two incomplete passes saw Sweden’s Karen Ullen step up to score a field goal, and bring the score 9-6 in favour of Sweden.
A terrific catch from GB’s Josephine White saw the Lions return the Swedish kick to the 45 yard line, and a number of runs from Ruth Matta opened up the Swedish defensive- allowing Sydney Green to link up with Phoebe Schecter in a pass that took the offense 18 yards off the end zone. Following a spell of running plays and an attempted pass, GB took a timeout- after which, an intuitive QB run from Green saw her jump to avoid a tackle and carry the ball to just a mere few yards off the end zone. After GB’s running attempts were denied, they attempted a pass into the end zone, however, some incredible defensive play from Sweden saw their #2 spot the ball and pick out the pass, turning over possession to Sweden, who took a knee to draw an end to the game.
Final Score: Sweden 9 - 6 Great Britain
MVP (Sweden) - #84 Karin Ullen
MVP (Great Britain) - #21 Ruth Matta