The build up to UFL II's long awaited kickoff has seemed like a lifetime for those teams keen to make amends for last season. But the major worry for the league was whether the equality that the UFL's inaugural season had was maintained in what could easily be a difficult sophomore year.
The Kickoff Classic was a chance for the Hawks to redeem a difficult year one.... They did it. And as for parity among the teams, the league need not have worried, with one score in it in both games.
HAWKS 32 - 30 Dragons
Seismic activity in the Leeds area was severely affected by the crowd noise at this fixture. This matchup had it all, with TD's traded all the way through by two teams fighting to throw the shackles of losing Bowl games last year. The Hawks drew first blood, racing into a 7-0 lead through an Alfie Thompson run converted by Matty Cooper throwing the PAT to Oscar O'Connor. The newly rebranded Dragons then went on a three score run to go 7 - 18 up and cause the Hawks to rethink their plans. But rethink they did and Matty Cooper was at the heart of it, running in one and throwing to Panashe Gaihai to put them 19-18 up. From then it became a slugfest, and with the Hawks finding themselves 26-30 down, they turned to Cooper again, throwing the TD pass to Oscar O'connor to wrap up the game 32-30.
MVPs - Hawks: Oscar O'Connor Dragons: Lewis Nicholson
Mavericks 26 - 32 WOLF PACK
The Mavericks came into this as the team to beat, they had a robust draft and seemed ready to take on allcomers, even the only team to retain it's Franchise player from UFL I, the Wolf Pack, led by Owen Yarwood. But the Wolf Pack were also ready. The Mav's found out 5 minutes before Kick Off they had lost their Franchise Player and starting QB Teddy Hope for the game and so Maksim Ivanov stepped in and played a stormer opening the scoring with 50 yard pass to Ben Remmer on their first play from scrimmage and the same combo converting. The Wolf pack struck straight back with Xavier Richards scampering into the end zone to make it 7-6. The Pack then pulled ahead with a Sam Smith to Louis Gent-Larroche pass and then a Smith to Yarwood PAT 13-6. Up popped Ivanov again though, with a 10 yard QB run and a pass to Ben Remmer to make it 14-13 but the Wolf Pack didn't panic. Owen Yarwood led them downfield and threw a TD to Richards and the PAT to Isaac Oldcorn to take the Pack into the half 14-20 up.
The teams came out revved up and on the first play of the half the ubiquitous Maksim Ivanov scampered in from 10 yards out to level it up 20-20 but Yarwood and Smith on consecutive drives for the Wolf Pack scoring on a 7 yard run and 6 yard run to make the Howlers 20-32 to the good and despite Maksim finding Miles Loveday with a 4 yard pass for the Mavs, they could not pull it back, losing 26-32.
MVPs - Mavericks: Maksim Ivanov Wolf Pack: Owen Yarwood/Sam Smith (Joint)