The Edinburgh Predators were back to their best in a 30 – 0, shutout victory in the annual varsity match against the Edinburgh Napier Knights on Sunday 3 February.
The game was played at Meggetland Stadium in front of a crowd of over 1000 spectators who braved the cold to be a part of the football spectacular, which included cheerleaders and a brass band.
The cold and windy conditions resulted in a scrappy opening, with both sides’ offences failing to make any sort of impact in the early stages. Indeed, the weather likely played a part in the opening score, when an errant snap from the Knight’s centre eluded the quarterback and exited the back of the end zone, resulting in a 2 point ‘safety’ for the Predators.
Worse was to follow for Napier as Edinburgh scored a touchdown on the next possession, thanks to a weaving four yard run from elusive running back Harry Aitken. Kicker Graeme Cox added the extra point to make the score 9 – 0 to the Predators.
The Knights’ offence continued to struggle, with a number of failed snaps and fumbles resulting in opportunities for the Predators’ offence to capitalise. Following a couple of failed drives, the Predators’ offence began to click once more, with quarterback Ben Pope finding wide receiver Callum Northcote for an 18 yard touchdown through the middle. The extra point attempt from Cox was missed, resulting in a score of 15 – 0 to the Predators.
The Napier Knights offered little in response to the Edinburgh onslaught and were again made to pay for a poor snap on the stroke of half time.
The ball flew over the head of QB Wessel van de Heyden, and was collected by running back Daniel Flannery, who was tackled in his own end zone by Predators’ line backer, Robert Bell. This resulted in another safety and a half time score of 17 – 0 to the Edinburgh Predators.
The second half began much as the first had ended – with the Predators on the front foot. Though early possessions proved fruitless, Napier’s offense was failing to make any progress downfield and a poor punt resulted in excellent field position for Edinburgh. The Predators took full advantage with a one yard touchdown from Aitken, followed by a one point conversion from Cox. Soon after, a two yard touchdown run from QB Pope compounded Napier’s miserable afternoon, with Cox’s missed kick leaving the score at 30 – 0 to Edinburgh.
The fourth quarter saw both teams struggle to convert their chances in increasingly blustery conditions, as the match petered out in the final stages. With seconds to go, Pope ‘took a knee’ for Edinburgh, ending the game and giving his side their second consecutive varsity title and a 30 – 0 shutout against their cross-town rivals.
Speaking after the game, Predators’ Head Coach Stewart Adam praised the team saying, “30 – 0 is a great score for us. Our offence could have scored more, but our defence was terrific. I’m so proud of the guys”.
Napier head coach Pete Laird was full of praise for the victorious Predators, but bemoaned his sides’ mistakes – “I take my hat off to the Predators, they execute really well. It’s just a shame that the past two years we haven’t shown up. We made a lot of mistakes and that cost us”.