Last Updated: Jun 11, 2023 - 5:34:51 PM

GB Lions defeat Holland
Jun 6, 2023 - 8:23:19 PM

Dutch Junior Lions 13 – 18   GB Lions Youth


The young GB Lions travelled to Utrecht to take on their Dutch counterparts in this opening qualifying round knock out game. For the winners a place in the 4 Team 2nd Round Tournament in Serbia awaited – for the losers it was a rapid end to their European Junior Championship (EJC) campaign


Understandably therefore, tension was high as the game kicked off and the young Brits over committed on the kick off giving the host team a perfect start as #32 Anthony Butler returned the kick 77yards for the opening score. The Extra point kick was good and the Dutch Lions led 7-0


The GB team gathered themselves and started well on their first drive with tailback Craig McLeod making good yardage – the hosts however showed a strong resolve as the Brits pressed into their territory and the ball was turned over on downs.


The GB Defense, with middle linebacker Jonathan Varney taking the lead, showed equal resolve and the battle for field position ebbed and flowed without either endzone being seriously threatened until late in the 2nd quarter. At that point GB Quarterback Sam Steward hit Wide Receiver Charlie Joseph in step and the young receiver raced 53yards to the Lions' first EJC score for eight years. The extra point attempt was blocked and the score stood at 7-6


An opportunity for the visitors occurred when Alex Haldane picked off a pass and returned it deep into Dutch territory – however, the Dutch Lions came up with a great counter play stripping the ball and recovering it without any damage being done by the momentary turnover.


Despite some great running by Marcus “Bo” Francis the visiting offense could not find the endzone again before the half and the Dutch Lions held the lead at half time.


With Sam Steward injured the GB Lions turned to Curtis Bourke at QB. It was a seamless transition as Bourke took control and led the team on a long drive featuring good gains from running back Craig Denham and a vital 3rd down reception from TE Mitchell Wilson. The Dutch defense however again stiffened at the right time and the scoreboard remained at 7-6 in their favour.


The home team started an impressive drive chipping away yardage and moving into the GB half – up stepped Defensive Back Aiden Flannigan to halt progress with the Brits second interception of the game.


Tailback Eniola Osainaike entered the game for GB and made an almost immediate impression – on his second carry behind the powerful blocking of the British O Line he broke two tackles on the way to a blistering 54 yard touchdown run. The GB extra point missed wide left and the score stood at 7-12 to the visitors.


Everything was at stake as the fourth quarter began and the home team appeared to have regained the lead when, on a broken play, QB Rashied found a Dutch receiver wide open in the endzone – unfortunately for the Dutch a lineman had gone downfield on the play and they were forced to punt after the penalty and their drive stalled.


In a great atmosphere it was clear that a big play would break the deadlock and  with time ticking away, with just 3 minutes to go in the game the young GB Lions conceded their first offensive TD since the rebirth of the team last year. QB Rashied found WR Nick Knoppel and the speedy wideout avoided all the efforts to stop him on his way to a 52yd Touchdown.


The Dutch celebrated taking a late lead but the young Brits stayed focused and stopped the fake PAT kick to leave the score at 13-12 to the home team.


Big plays had influenced the game throughout – both teams had played well and neither wanted to lose. The GB Offense stood on the touchline waiting for the opportunity to try to snatch back the ticket to Serbia.


Another big play however denied them that opportunity as WR Nick Roope took the kick-off and raced 97 yards to, what was to be, the winning Touchdown. The extra 2 point PAT try failed and the score stood at 13-18


The final 2 minutes were tense – with penalties and outstanding plays from both teams keeping everyone on edge. Eventually however with just 40 seconds remaining Linebacker Dan Maher picked off Rashied for the third British interception of the day and the game was over.


 GB Head Coach Steve Rains said “This was a great game that lived up to the excellent arrangements made by the Dutch Federation. Our guys – you just can't say enough about them. They have bonded so well as a team and we knew that it was never going to be easy – but we did know we would get 100% all the way from this group. I am extremely proud of the players and all of my staff who have made this possible – we now look forward to Serbia and some tough games against Serbia , Czech Republic and Switzerland


Special Teams Co-ordinator Scott Rowe added “Of course we were disappointed to concede the first score – but the guys made up for that throughout the game and particularly with the stunning return which won the game”


Defensive Co-ordinator Damian Anderson concluded “This group have become a team despite the limited time we get to work with them – they should make everyone in British football proud – we aim to keep defying the odds and we are all looking forward to the next challenge in Serbia


GB Stats



S Steward   3 of 7 for 65yds 1TD

C Bourke    1 of 4 for 14yds



C Joseph   2 for 59yds 1TD

M Wilson 1 for 14yds

J Eaton       1 for 6yds



E Osanaike   9 for 101yds 1TD

M Francis     7 for 53yds

C McLeod    6 for 41yds

C Denham    4 for 14yds



J Varney            6 Tackles + 1 Sack

A Haldane         5 Tackles + 1Int

D Maher           3 Tackles + 1Int

A Burton           3 Tackles

A Flannagan     2 Tackles + 1 Int

A Giltrow          1 Tackle + 2 Sacks

C Parker           2 Tackles

S Adrissi            2 Tackles

J Crouch           2 Tackles

E Hoyte             2 Tackles

G Prudden         1 Sack

J Gaskell           1 Tackle

E Osanaike        1 Tackle

R Russell           1 Tackle

N Olive             1 Tackle

M Hearnden      1 Tackle




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