Surely the second half of the season would see some improvement from the Reikland side? The Ültras had not been swayed by the bloodthirsty matches against the Grizzlies or the Wolfskins, even if the latter saw the Unicorns bank their first victory under their new coach.
Playing the Odds
For fans of the brutal and beautiful sport of Blood Bowl - the brutiful game, if you will - watching two teams of maniacs hammer into one another, abandoning all sense of self-preservation, often ignoring the ball in preference of settling personal vendettas or showing their teammates just how tough they can be is a wonderful experience that the entire family can enjoy. However, as a coach, sometimes that sounds like a recipe for disaster. Firmly in this camp, Coach Wilson of the Übersreik Unicorns took on the hardened DLE veterans in the shape of the Middenheim Classics.
With some of the most dreaded names on their teamsheet, the Unicorns knew that the art of survival is picking ones battles. They threw a below average number of blocks in an attempt not to startle the sleeping tiger too much. A compact strategy was enhanced by the early removals of Emilia Schroder and Jawaan Taylor. But Leboucher, Wirt, and Lane were then removed themselves, forcing Giza to score too close to the kick-off for comfort. Arthur Dent then killed Hunter Agsded and the game looked in the balance.
Whilst the fearsome Djorkaeff was sent off by the referee, Jack Sparrow continued to lead the line and Bruce Brown evaded the punches of Juan Thornhill to draw things level. With just 10 Unicorns left on the field and little in the locker room, Wilson ordered his players to keep out of danger. This allowed Hannibel Mekins to score but at least the home side would have a relatively fresh run at their next opponents. But the Ültras made their feelings known and, in the club's VIP area, the suits began tugging their collars nervously. Whatever happened next, they could not afford to lose their fans.
With a 14-man squad against opponents missing some key personnel, the match against the Altdorf Thunderbolts was vital if Wilson wanted to validate his decisions from the previous encounter. Four defeats in a row, amidst pressure from the fans, made the importance of this match impossible to underestimate. But the 'Bolts were also in a rut.
As seemed to be their raison d'etre, the Unicorns piled into their opponents. Brigante wounded an unnamed ringer, Tytus Howard k/o'd Wirt, Keith Loneker surfed Giza, and Scott Quessenberry stunned Leboucher but Carlos Torrosa had fatally eliminated Simon Demain and Gryson, with his contract negotiations now settled, removed scoring threat Jamal Adams in a blitz. With their team in disarray, Logan Woodside scored his first touchdown. Brady Doshack soon equalised before Wirt's superb pass found Giza, who retook the lead for the Unicorns but then, just a pace away from Giza's outstretched hand, Doshack scored again. At the end of the game - one of the most entertaining that The Tin Spur has seen this season, a pocket of fans gave the team a muted round of applause, suggesting that they were coming around to their new coach.
Hopes for the Future
The Lyonesse Patriots were sitting dead last in the league but had been steadily improving. The St. Giles Stadium was a sell-out for the visiting Unicorns and they were treated to a truly outstanding match. The sides would share 6 scores, whilst the hosts would have to stomach four injuries. Richard Lane kicked off proceedings with a rapid score. He bagged another from a sharp pick-six from Wirt. In a scramble, Minkah Fitzpatrick pulled one back before debutant Marcell Ateman was pulverised by the returning BJ Hill. Fitzpatrick scored again but only made himself a target for Leboucher who cut short his match. Tyler Higbee, another new recruit put the home side ahead and the travelling fans were incandescent. Their brief acceptance of the new regime seemed set to end spontaneously and violently. However, Wirt, who has really come into his own at the tail-end of the season, linked up with Giza who scored another. Even after Woodside was red carded for a petty foul, the game will live long in the memory for the expansive, offensive showcase that it was.
How could anyone follow up that spectacle? The only way that a team with nothing to play for truly can; an unexpected brutal victory! The Bel Aliad Griffins appeared to have little to play for and, after the opening drive, had to replicate what the Unicorns did against the Classics and protect their remaining players. Ogre Vita Vea and Dreng Bronson were removed before the Griffins scored through Lamar Jackson. Tibor Papp, Lindy Ruff, Rick Nash, and Chris Kirk were all taken out before Wirt handed off to Giza who bulldozed his way over the line. Nash, Jack Conlin, Luke Falk, and Max Steele all took some time to study the paint job on the underside of the dugout. The Griffins, fearing a wipeout, backed off and Lane scored once more. A few late scuffles couldn't turn things around at the Ahmad Ibn Rustah Arena and the Ültras could finally let the lid off of their pent up frustration.
Seeing the Season Out
The last match of Season XIV was at home to the Kislev Cardinals, who still had an outside chance of making the post-season eliminators. With that in mind, Coach Wilson once more decided to try and rest his players as best as possible.
The home fans were not pleased, of course, but their chagrin was less confrontational than in previous games as they knew a defeat - and results elsewhere - may mean slightly more favourable draft picks. Barry Gryson ended Arden Key's game on the peep of the whistle and Leboucher did the same to OJ Howard. Finally, after a season of misplaced paces and fumbled catches, Woodside found Lane who sold his marker a dummy but was sacked by Arion Hill - who had, in the previous meeting between the teams, killed Tancred Montfort. He was a key target for the Unicorns whose instructions were to try and even the score. But whilst the Cardinals were still trying the get to grips with the game, they allowed Giza to bag his 10th touchdown of the season. Howard Wilson equalised and Vincent Tobale scored the winner that put the Cards into 8th place in the league and the game petered out.
As for the Unicorns, their eyes turn to Season XV. Sean 'The Bolt' Bunting, who had suffered two severe injuries, was cut from the roster; Hayden Vlademere, who stepped in to fill a seat on the bench, was also released; Ola Adeniyi, who was rumoured to be joining local rivals, the Reikland Wreckers, announced he would instead be joining the Kemperbad Knights; and the Blaide twins also appear set to leave for pastures knew after being drafter in from the under-23s.
G13: C. Torrosa
G14: L. Woodside
G15: L. Woodside
G16: I. Blaide
G17: BJ Hill
10 - B. Giza
5 - R. Lane
3 - R. Brigante
2 - S. Bunting
1 - T. Montfort; L. Woodside
12 - O. Wirt
11 - L. Woodside
1 - O. Adeniyi
10 - T. Leboucher
9 - B. Gryson
7 - J. Thornhill; B. Giza
4 - R. Brigante
3 - BJ Hill; A. Dent
2 - C. Torrosa; O. Wirt
1 - S. Bunting; C. Lobato; I. Blaide; Z. Blaide
G13: Middenheim Classics - X. de Soutolongo (MNG); H. Agsded (RIP)
G14: Altdorf Thunderbolts - S. Demain (RIP); K. Loneker (MNG); Merc Blitzer #2 (MNG)
G15: Lyonesse Patriots - M. Fitzpatrick (MNG); M. Ateman (RIP); J. Smith-Schuster (MNG); D. Wilson (MNG)
G16: Bel Aliad Griffins - L. Ruff (MNG); J. Conklin (MNG)
G13: S. Bunting (MNG); BJ Hill (NI)
G14: O. Adeniyi (NI)
G16: I. Blaide (MNG)
G17: R. Brigante (MNG)