Burnley Tornados championed their way to the top part of the Northern Conference, after only their third year in competitive American Football games.
They journeyed the short way to Chorley Rugby Club where they faced Chorley Buccaneers, the newly-formed Standish Raiders and Chester Romans.
The tournament began with a clash against long standing divisional rivals Chester. The first half saw the Tornados’ running game dominate, with Andy Hawkes scoring three touchdowns and a conversion. The defence also had a great half, allowing just a single touchdown to the Romans, with Lewis Freeman making eight tackles and Xavier Sutcliffe and Lewis Clark both making interceptions from a rattled Chester offense.
The second half was also dominated by the Tornados, who knew that the victory would virtually assure them a place in the National Finals.
Quarterback Jake Peppiate threw two touchdown passes to Hawkes and centre Phil Robins, with a further six points coming via the unstoppable Hawkes, who rushed for over 150 yards.
The defence shut out the Romans attack completely in the second half with Sutcliffe and Freeman combining for 11 tackles. The final score of 38-8 meant that the Tornados had reached Britbowl 2012.
The second game of the day for the Tornados was against local Academy team Chorley Bucs. With the rain pouring down, it was a hard-fought games. The Bucs had to win to stand any chance of making the finals themselves, and the first half started badly for the Tornados as the pumped up Bucs’ rushing game forced two quick touchdowns and conversions.
The Tornados, showing their customary never-say-die attitude, hit back to level the scores. Andy Hawkes ran the ball in twice and scored again for a two-point conversion.
The defence were under tremendous pressure, with Freeman making another impressive nine tackles.
The Tornados’ unbeaten season hung in the balance as the second half started. Lewis Clark scored first for Burnley, and with a further two points added, things were looking good.
However the Bucs fought back hard and scored two touchdowns of their own, before Hawkes edged Burnley ahead once more.
At the death, and despite some last-ditch defending, the Bucs scrambled a touchdown giving them a slender five-point advantage.
Peppiate tried a Hail Mary pitch-long pass with less than 30 seconds remaining, but to no avail, and the game and the unbeaten season was over.
The final score was 33–28 to Chorley, giving the Bucs a very good chance of joining the Tornados at the finals.
The third game of the day for the Tornados was against Standish Raiders, and Burnley had to regroup and focus, and put the disappointment of their first loss behind them.
The offense kicked things off with a tired but still determined Hawkes running home a 10-yard touchdown.
The Raiders levelled but the Tornados went on to score two more touchdowns, an impressive 25-yard run from Lewis Clark and another rushing score from Hawkes. Four more extra points brought the half to a close at 22-7. The second half saw Standish score three touchdowns, however the Tornados replied each time, with Peppiate completing an angled five-yard touchdown pass to Robins and a 12-yard rushing score from Andy Hawkes resulted in the final score 36-25.
Burnley were North West Conference champions and head off to the National Finals in Sheffield with the best record in the league.
The Tornados are now seeded one, where they will face Inverclyde Phoenix at Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield on August 25th.