Sapphire Round 4 was the final round of the tournament and the Valkyries were drawn against two very tough teams to close out the season. First up was the divisional leaders, Teesside, followed by the hard hitting Sandwell.
Having played both of these teams in rounds one and two, the team knew to expect high intensity and physically demanding games – and they were not wrong.
There were several great performances – and arguably the best collective defensive performance of the tournament against Teesside – on the day. Several players were asked to fill in at different positions, such as Mandy who filled in at Centre against Sandwell for the first ever time and held up well against extremely tough Sandwell pressure, particularly given that she had big shoes to fill due to Maria May being unable to play the second game due to injury. Vikki Matthews had some good runs from running back as well as playing her usual wide receiver position. On the defensive side Corners Emily Roberts and Lois McConville had big games coming up to stop the run as well as covering the pass – with Lois recording a full field pick 6 to spark the Valkyries
into life against Sandwell.
A destructive force on the day, Zoe John lived almost permanently in the opposition backfield causing havoc with handoffs and making plenty of tackles for loss. She was also unfortunate to not force a safety as the runner managed to just stay out of the end zone. When she wasn’t making tackles in the backfield she was chasing down runners, assisting her fellow defenders with the tackle. It was a day where she clearly showed why she was a nomination for Divisional MVP.
As has been noted before, Ruth Lewis seems to be able to get that little bit of space from defenders and turn catches into huge gains and often scores. In round 4 this was again on display as she reeled in another huge 2 TD passes.
It is a sign of respect when a defence starts to put double coverage on you – especially in the 5-a-side game – but this is something that is starting to happen more and more with Ruth. With her threat on the field, it also allows more space for the others to work in and thrive which in turn contributes to the Offence’s continuing success.
Beth Kenure has rapidly gained a reputation for being a great running back with her determination and gritty running. This was yet again on display in round 4 as she constantly gained yards. However, it wasn’t just in the run game that Beth excelled as she also caught 2 touchdown passes, as well as primarily playing defence on the day, recording multiple tackles and even recording an interception. A truly outstanding all round performance.