The Belfast Trojans moved to 3-0 on the season with a hard-fought 25-8 win over the much-improved Dublin Rebels in Santry.
The Rebels pushed the four-time reigning champions all the way, but it was a game the Trojans always seemed in control of after grabbing the early lead. This allowed their stout defence to hold Dublin to just one score on the afternoon.
It was very much a case of bend-don’t-break on defence for Belfast, with the defensive line severely depleted due to injury and unavailability. Despite giving up a few chunk plays to impressive Rebel running back Wello Omo, the Trojans defence made huge stops at the right times and constantly terrorised quarterback Andy Dennehy in passing situations. The Trojans opened the scoring on their first drive. After some strong running by Jona Siri, Belfast found themselves in a long third and goal situation.
With plenty of coverage being rolled over the top of Dave Colvin and Dave Richardson on one side, James McKelvey looked the other way to rookie Jack Millar and the 18-year-old climbed the ladder to haul in the pass and keep the feet in bounds, a stunning catch from a player in just his third game of American football.
A superb interception from Rick Duffield on an errant throw from Dennehy soon gave the Trojans fantastic field position and it was Neil Montgomery doubling the score, rumbling in from 10 yards out for a trademark rushing score. After a pair of early picks, Dennehy settled in and orchestrated a superb Dublin drive, Omo and Sean Leamy running some perfectly executed draws and screens, with the former South Dublin Panther Omo crossing from 15 yards out around the right side to make it 12-8.
Just before the break though the Trojans hit back and it was Siri with the touchdown, a fantastic 50 yard run enhancing his MVP claims already in this young season. Into the third quarter and both offences stalled somewhat. The Trojans went three-and-out on their first drive, while the Rebels were able to move the ball between the 20’s but inside the redzone the Belfast defence stiffened and turned the ball over on downs.
The game was still in the balance with around six minutes left in the final quarter before the ever-reliable partnership of McKelvey and Richardson put the final nail into the Rebel coffin. A fantastic play action pass from the quarterback found last year’s leading SBC scorer wide open, before scampering 50 yards untouched for the touchdown.
The game ended 25-8 to the Trojans, a perfect warm up for their historic clash with American outfit the Sewanee Tigers on May 14 at Deramore Park.