Watford Cheetahs 10 – Colchester Gladiators 6

Watford Cheetahs 10 – Colchester Gladiators 6

Cheetahs go 2 – 0 on the season

23rd April 2012

The Cheetahs built on last week’s 14-0 road victory at Maidstone Pumas and are now 2-0 for 2012 after a hard-fought 10-6 win over the much-fancied Colchester Gladiators at Fullerians. Right from the opening kickoff, it was a very physical encounter with both offenses virtually producing run play after run play with Watford’s Dan Fay and Colchester’s Ajay Crabbe racking up most of the yardage until Watford’s Lloyd McColm made an 8 yard reception before being forced out of the game through injury. The Cheetahs failed to capitalise on Colchester fumbles and penalties in the first quarter before Fay ran the ball on 3rd & 4 for a Cheetahs 1st Down which brought the opening quarter to a close.

It was then basically as you were for the first part of the 2nd Quarter, with Fay, again providing the yardage before Watford dropped yardage on 2nd down which culminated in a Colchester interception on 3rd & 12. Colchester looked very good on the ball with RBs Phil Pearson and Ajay Crabbe providing explosive runs from the backfield but false starts and offsides penalties cost Colchester and was forced to punt on 4th down. Cheetahs’ RB Kenny Gale, got into the yardage habit and WR Ajayi Olatunji was agonisingly close to a big reception but the pass was incomplete. Colchester then enjoyed a big drive with Crabbe providing most of the yardage before Watford’s defense stopped them 9 yards short of the goal line with Jamie Brown getting a big sack on the Colchester QB which forced them to kick for 3. Unfortunately for them, the FG was blocked and Watford made a big recovery from the block.

From then on the Cheetahs made Colchester pay for the blocked FG with Dan Fay running the ball for a 1st down then Jack Carroll made a 27 yard reception and from the next play Ben Shipley scored the opening touchdown of the game with a 7 yard reception. The Cheetahs then decided to go for a two point conversion which was stopped in its tracks but the Cheetahs got a reprieve from a Colchester penalty. From then, the PAT was good with Mark Ward kicking between the posts.

The second half was much like the first with both Colchester and Watford trading yardage on the run when a sudden hailstorm in the 3rd Quarter heralded a Colchester only score of the game with Ajay Crabbe evading the Watford D with a pulsating 54 yard rushing score of which the Gladiators were unable to convert, which made the score 7-6 in favour of the home team. Again as before both teams ran the ball from the backfield with Kenny Gale producing penetrating runs through the Colchester defense. But the Cheetahs again failed to put their opponents away and Mark Ward kicking between the posts for 3 from 32 yards in driving wind and rain which made the score 10-6.

Watford’s Defense were by then imposing themselves on a tiring Colchester offense and nearly had a 2pt safety when Jamie Brown tackled a Gladiators carrier inside the endzone but the officials judged that the carrier was downed on the 1 yard line. Colchester and Crabbe got themselves out of trouble with a big rushing gain but on the next play the greasy ball was fumbled and Watford got the ball back deep in the 4th Quarter with Kenny Gale and fullback Alex Gordon with first downs between them which forced Colchester back inside their 5 yard line. But again, Watford could not finish off their opponents.

That was how the game finished, with Watford being made to work very hard for their win despite fielding a team that vastly outnumbered Colchester’s spirited travelling side. But Colchester will feel that they should have got something from the game and will look to avenge their defeat when the Cheetahs travel to Colchester for the return game on July 21st. But for Watford, the win takes them to 2-0 for the season which they will be more than happy with but they will have to improve before their next game at local rivals Bedfordshire Blue-Raiders on May 6th and their biggest test so far when they go to Milton Keynes to face a very strong Pathfinders team who are looking for a play-off spot.