Cubs Sack Sparta

Posted on March 19, 2010

Sydney Uni continued its campaign for domination of the ancient world by defeating the Spartans 36-18 at the St George Hockey Centre on Friday night.  The game also doubled as a battle of the playing strips, with both clubs unveiling new game jerseys.  The consensus on the Sydney Uni sideline was that the new Cubs jerseys had inflicted a heavy defeat over the new Spartans jersey.  Club President, Liam Erby, was on hand for the occasion and is to be congratulated on overseeing a program which continues to set the benchmark for Gridiron in NSW at every level.

The Cubs started the game on defence and immediately imposed their will over the Spartans.  The defence was more than ready for the full house backfield deployed by the Spartans and took the opening plays for heavy losses.  Outside linebacker Nabeel Siddiqui (#21) swung the Spartans quarterback to the ground for a huge loss on third down, only to be penalised for roughing the passer to give the Spartans a new set of downs.  Given that the tackle was entirely legitimate, the quarterback still had the ball and the whistle had not been blown by the officials, it was impossible to justify the call on any grounds other than sympathy for the quarterback, yet it merely gave the Cubs a further opportunity to ram home their advantage.   The defensive line of Daniel Pearson (#55) and Sergan Isik (#50) and linebacking corps of Nabeel Siddiqui (#21), Cameron Prentice (#42) and Andrew Shattuck (#31) simply outmuscled their opponents at the line of scrimmage to hold the Spartan to no gain on their next series.  Cornerback Vlad Matovic (#13) played with excellent containment on the edge to drop the wingback reverse for no gain on third down and then sack the quarterback on a bootleg keeper on fourth down to complete the rout for the Cubs’ defence.  The Cubs offence then drove down for an opening score to Harry Granger (#5) on its first possession to give the Cubs the early advantage 6-0.

That lead was short-lived, with the Spartans taking the ensuing kick-off through the Cubs coverage team for a score.  The defence held out the two point conversion attempt to keep the scores level.

The Cubs had good field position on their next possession after the middle row of the kick-off return team handled a short kick and returned it over halfway.  Quarterback Sam Darcy (#84) was having to rely on veterans Harry Granger (#5), Max Granger (#39) and Alex Klaric (#82) alternating their roles in the backfield to make up for the absence of three running backs.  The offensive line was also called on to pick up the slack, with Angus Bishop (#58), Alex Panebianco (#77) and Oscar Heidrich (#74) in the Gold line and Kendall Generoso (#60), Elvis Trompf (#67) and Jack Horgan (#97) in the Blue line all delivering strong performances.  The Cubs put Harry Granger in for another rushing touchdown and followed up with a two point conversion to Sam Darcy to take the lead out to 14-6.

The defence had a scare on its next drive, with the backside losing containment and allowing the Spartans halfback to escape from a likely loss, reverse his field and scamper for a long gain down to the Cubs’ 8 yard line.  Cornerback Justin Chow (#8) showed good hustle to make the open field tackle and prevent a score.  From there, the defence got back on top.  Jack Danielson (#94) made successive tackles for no gain and Chow played perfect coverage to break up a third down pass attempt.  On fourth down, Siddiqui, Pearson and Shattuck combined to take the bootleg for a loss to snuff out the scoring threat.

In the short time remaining before the end of the half, the offence did everything but score.  On the last play of the half, Darcy completed a pass to Klaric, who swept up the sideline but was ruled to have been bumped out of bounds at the 2 yard line as time expired.  Sydney Uni went to the break with a 14-6 lead; but a lead which did not properly reflect its dominance of the first half play from scrimmage.

The opening kick-off of the second half immediately redressed the imbalance.  Another short kick was fielded in the middle row by Alex Klaric and he followed the blocking scheme topunch a hole through the middle of the coverage and celebrate his birthday with a return for a touchdown.  Key blocks were thrown by Siddiqui, Heidrich and Panebianco and all of the return team played with good discipline to avoid any blocking penalties on the return.  Harry Granger ran in the 2 point conversion to extend the lead to 22-6.

The defence continued to cause havoc as the Spartans moved into a more expansive offence.  On the next series, Siddiqui continued to torment the Spartans from the outside, recording two big sacks to put the Spartans into 4th and 21.  Shattuck made the tackle from his spying role on 4th down to give the defence its third turnover on downs for the game.  The offence cashed in on the good field position, with Darcy stepping a blitzing linebacker and cutting through the defence behind good blocking from Bishop and Panebianco to run in a touchdown (with a victory roll at the endzone for good measure!).  The score put the lead out to 28-6.

Cornerback Chevy Abraham-Jacob was unfortunate not to pick off the Spartans’ quarterback on the opening play of the next drive, Abraham-Jacob having the presence to leave his receiver to break on an underthrown pass.  But the defence continued to roll the Spartans back, consecutive sacks involving Pearson, Danielson and Siddiqui forcing the Spartansback to their own 2 yard line.  The Spartans finally decided that a punt was in order, which Justin Chow returned back to with 15 yards of the endzone (losing his shoe in a big collision at the end of the run!).

However, the offence finally faltered, giving up a fumble on its next possession with the endzone in sight.  Middle linebacker, Cameron Prentice (#42) sacked the quarterback to force another punt, but the defence undid all its good work by gifting possession to the Spartans on their own 4 yard line after unnecessarily handling the punt.  The defence forced the Spartans to earn it, but conceded its first score for the night to a bootleg pass play in the flats despite good coverage.  The 2 point conversion was defended to leave the score at 28-12.

The offence got back on track on its next possession, driving in for another rushing score to Darcy.  The Spartans defence unwisely bought heavily into the fake to the fullback on the option and were left with no reserves out wide when forced to account for the true market position.  The offensive line of Generoso, Trompf and Horgan can be seen shunting the Spartans defensive line back into the endzone on the play.   Harry Granger shifted into quarterback for the 2 point conversion and kept it a family affair, finding his brother Max in the flat for 2 points and a 36-12 lead.

The defence gave up a big play on a back release pattern on its next drive, with only great pursuit (and great contact!) from Matovic saving a touchdown.  The Spartans got the ball into the endzone from close range to complete the scoring at 36-18, but nothing could alter the comprehensive defeat handed by the Cubs to its rivals.

The Cubs next face the Northwestern Predators at the Hockey Field at the UWS Nepean campus (O’Connell St, Kingswood – see the Contacts page for a map of the field) before the Easter Bye.  The Cubs will be looking to continue the improvement shown on both sides of the ball as they move deeper into the season towards the playoffs.