The Pirates opened their 2012 campaign in the premier division with a convincing win away to old rivals the Birmingham Bulls on Saturday.
The Scots started strongly, scoring on all of their first three offensive possessions, with running back Iain Dick running in the first touchdown after a 65 yard drive. The Pirates defense then forced the Bulls into a three and out, putting the ball back into the hands of the visitors. The Pirates then drove from their own half, scoring on a 26 yard pass from quarterback Ryan Hunter to receiver Craig Towler.
Another three and out for the Bulls gave the Pirates the ball back on their own 28 yard line and the home defense started well, ending the quarter with a tackle on running back Dick for a loss. However, the Pirates hit back unfazed, with Hunter running in from 74 yards out.
Once again the Pirates defense stood strong, getting the ball back four plays later and backup quarterback Neil Baptie took the field for the Pirates. His first drive was unsuccessful, with receivers dropping two passes, although he did run for a 14 yd gain. The Pirates ultimately punted, their defense forcing yet another three and out, before Baptie led the Pirates downfield, tossing a 24 yard pass to Jamie McLaughlin. Unfortunately he followed this by throwing an interception but the Bulls failed to capitalise, with yet another three and out. Another strong drive from Baptie and the Pirates featured passes of 21 yards to tight end Mark Murphy and 26 yards to rookie Aaron Paterson, before Dick ran in his second score of the day from four yards out, giving the Pirates a 27-0 lead at half time.
The second half opened with the Bulls in possession but a forced fumble by linebacker Blair McTague gave the Pirates the ball in the Bulls half. Hunter ran for eleven yards on the first play, but was sacked twice in quick succession. Just as the drive looked set to stall, he threw a 21 yard strike to McLaughlin, which gave the visitors a 34 point margin.
Birmingham still couldn't find the momentum to gain a first down as the ball was put back in the hands of the Pirates, but the drive was stopped as Hunter turned over the ball with a fumbled handoff. Another quick three and out from the Bulls was followed by a punt attempt where a high snap had to be recovered by the punter on his own four yard line. East Kilbride took two plays to punch it in with running back Blake Kyle carrying for three yards and Hunter scoring from the one, to end the quarter at 41-0 to the Pirates.
The Bulls next possession was short lived as defensive back Scott Findlay intercepted an errant pass, before the Pirates scored their final points of the day on a two play drive culminating in a 47 yard touchdown pass from Hunter to veteran receiver Towler, ending the encounter 47-0.
Overall, a strong defensive performance from the Pirates was the highlight of the day, only allowing two first downs, both from penalties. The first on an offside call and the second on an unnecessary roughness infraction. Offensively, the Pirates showed flashes of the quality which netted them the Division One crown last year, rotating through three quarterbacks to help blood rookie Euan Rennie and give backup Baptie some valuable live experience ahead of a tough run of games.
The Pirates take on Tamworth Phoenix at Lichfield Rugby Club next Sunday at 3pm.