CORNISH SHARKS 16 - 07 SWINDON STORM
Cornish Sharks Tough It Out to Win Season Opener 7-16 Away to Swindon Storm
In their 10th Anniversary Year in the National League, the Cornish Sharks travelled to Swindon for their first fixture of the season. The Sharks had much to prove not having fared well against the Storm in the past, but they had their game heads on having been labelled the “underdogs”.
From the first to the last whistle the Swindon Storm and the Cornish Sharks fought for every inch of the field in an epic dogfight. Ultimately the Cornish Sharks proved their mettle to win convincingly against the odds, with the final score Cornish Sharks 16 Swindon Storm 7.
In his first game as the Shark’s Defensive Coordinator, Mark Wilkins’s defense shut down the Storm passing game and limited their running yards, capped off with an impressive fourth quarter goal line stand to all but finish the game. Matt Christie, Cornerback in Wilkins’s defense, intercepted the Swindon pass attack twice for a total of over 60 return yards. Linebacker Paul Cox dominated through much of the game forcing a sack on the Storm Quarterback and racking up several tackles for losses. Ironman Richie Howlett Linebacker and running back, played all but one snap consistently making plays in all three phases of the game. A special mention must go to Gill Lockett – Offensive Lineman – for a pick six saving tackle.
The Storm run game picked up steam heading out at halftime bettered by multiple Quarterback runs. Through tooth and nail Swindon climbed up the field with their impressive barrage of run plays only to be smothered by the Sharks defense before they could score. Unfortunately for Swindon they could not match the offensive production of the Sharks despite their strong victories in the two seasons prior.
The first half saw Shaun Griffin, running back with a striking performance culminating in a 2 yard running touchdown. A revamped stable of running backs outperformed all expectations grinding out difficult yards throughout the entire game. A stellar touchdown pass from Quaterback Perran Andrews – under duress - to receiver Matt South in the second quarter, gave the Sharks a lead they would never relinquish. An exciting individual play from Quarterback Joby Woflenden-Brown picked up a first down on a fake punt deep in the Shark’s own territory.
Alex Bonner set the tone for the Shark’ season with a bone crunching tackle proving definitively that the Cornish Sharks have their bite back. Although Swindon were favoured Brian Smallworth’s Sharks prevailed due
to heart, dedication and sheer determination. The underdogs showed true character and a willingness to fight that surprised their opponents but not their Head Coach who said: “We have worked hard all off season - following a successful recruiting drive that has given us a new bunch of talent to work with - to be ready for the games this year and we changed our training to include a lot more contact in the sessions. We highlighted key areas we needed to improve, which we addressed and I felt quietly confident.
“The defence had a new Coordinator, Mark Wilkins, who played for me at the Thames Valley Chargers back in 1994. We installed a “bend don’t brake defence” which involves the team working tightly together and absorbing as much pressure as they can without yielding. Our offence we worked on the running game with our quick passing game, which took Swindon by surprise. I was expecting more mistakes with so many new players but the team hit all the goals set for them in their first game and in fact, scored two further touchdowns which were disallowed, so the score could have been bigger.
“We have set goals for the next game and will have added more players to the squad to make us a force to be reckoned with.
“We recruit all year round with an open door policy for new players should anyone want to come along and give it a go, please check out our website and come along to the next session.”