The 0-1 Yorkshire Rams travelled the short distance to Doncaster to take on the 0-4 Doncaster Mustangs in the first leg of the battle of Yorkshire. It was Doncasters turn to show off their new stadium in the rainy Keepmoat stadium as the Rams looked to bounce back from their disappointing 20-0 defeat in the season opener against Redditch Arrows.

The opening kick off was returned 41 yards to the Mustangs 30 yard line by Phil Fitzpatrick where starting Quarterback Rick Lynch was lucky not to be intercepted on his first throw before hooking up with Wide Receiver Jonathan Roberson 2 plays later on a 4th down conversion. Some Rams hard running up the middle of the field from Running Back Sam Irace was stalled by the Mustangs defense who took over at their own 8 yard line. The Rams defense held strong and the Mustangs were forced to punt the ball away. It was the Mustangs turn to frustrate the Rams offense as they were held and forced to punt away, on the ensuing punt return the Rams special teams tackled the returner for a 6 yard loss. The Rams defence held strong as the Doncaster offense failed to convert which coupled with a penalty meant the had to punt the ball. Paul Goodward took over in the Rams backfield and made yardage on the ground.

The Rams took the advantage in the 2nd quarter when a 14 yard completion to the evergreen Justin Lester was followed by Sam Iraces 15 yard dash into the end zone. The extra point was hooked wide right and the Rams led 6-0.

Yorkshire capitalised their lead even further when the kick off was fumbled and recovered at the Doncaster 3 yard line by Linebacker Joe Coultate. A Paul Goodward dive fell just short and it was left to Quarterback Rick Lynch to take the ball over the line to give the Rams a 12-0 lead. Jonathan Roberson ran in the 2 point conversion giving the Rams a 14-0 advantage.

The Mustangs again failed to move the ball on their next drive and the Rams possesion of the football with Sam Irace racing for 36 yards on the ground to set the Rams up for a field goal attempt. A fumbled hold on the field goal meant the Mustangs took over again and failing to move the ball finished the half with 14 yards overal yardage and -2 yardage rushing.

The second half kicked off with the weather showing no signs of letting up. The Mustangs took possesion of the ball and failing to convert on 3rd down where forced to punt, when Paul Goodward blocked the punt the Mustangs recovered the ball and carried it to just short of the 1st down marker.

The Rams offense took over with former Mustangs Quarterback Andy Green behind centre, Full Back Phil Fitzpatrick and ran for 9 yards through the middle of the line. Andy Green was then winded on the next play where his pass also fell short, Rick Lynch returned to the game but was unable to convert on 3rd down. Doncaster then took their turn to block a punt and took over the ball where the moved the ball successfully to gain their first 1st down of the game. Doncaster went to their no huddle offense in an attempt to move the ball further but were stalled when they fumbled on a 4th down attempt. The Rams Offense and QB Andy Green returned to the game but lost yardage following a 9 yard fumble. They were unable to complete a deep pass down the sideline on 3rd down and punted the ball away.

The Mustangs stayed in their no huddle offense but still failed to make any impact on a hard hitting Rams defense that rushed to the ball carriers. Paul Goodward rushed for 13 yards to take the Rams to the Mustangs half before Green connected with Roberson for gains of 4 and 19 yards. Phil Fitzpatrick carried again for a hard fought 10 yards through the Doncaster defense. The Rams failed to convert after losing yardage on rushing plays and on a holding call. The Mustangs defense were also penalised by the referees who had a solid game which left them with 2nd and 24 to go. Following a scrambling run by the Doncaster quarterback which failed to gain any yardage the game was halted temporarily whilst a referee received treatment for a hit he took during the play. Doncaster completed on 4th down but failed to gain the first down.

Justin Lester and Phil Fitzpatrick moved the ball on the ground and Dan Laming caught a 7 yard pass to set the Rams up in the Mustangs red zone. A pass interference call on Doncaster in the end zone gave Yorkshire excellent field position at the 3 yard line giving Paul Goodward a short dive into the end zone. The Rams converted the extra point to take the score to 21-0.

The Mustangs turned the ball over again when Paul Goodward jumped on a fumble and returned it 22 yards. Full back Graham Thompson and Hytham Atchison moved the ball on the ground bringing the Rams into field goal range but the 45 yard attempt fell short.

The game ended 21-0 with Sam Irace rushing 14 times for 67 yards and 1 15yd touchdown, Paul Goodward rushing 8 times for 27 yards and 1 3yd touchdown and Phil Fitzpatrick rushing 4 times for 29 yards. Jonathan Roberson finished the game with 4 catches for 44 yards. Joe Coultate finished with 9 tackles and a fumble recovery, Rob Kent with 10 tackles including 1 11 yard sack to close the game and game MVP Paul Goodward also added 7 tackles including 1 sack to his blocked punt and fumble recovery.

Rams head coach Orlando Weekes said afterwards: “The game was played with so much intensity on both sides of the ball from both teams. We have a long way to go and a lot of things to learn, but I am very proud of the way we came out and stuck to our game plan. This is a good start for us after the loss in our season opener. The Mustangs gave us a hard fought game and we thank them and wish them good luck in the future.”

The return leg at Yorkshires new home in John Charles Stadium takes place on August 18th kicking off at 4pm.

MVP: Paul Goodward