- The Watford Cheetahs faced the Essex Spartans on Saturday 31st May under floodlights in Billericay and played it rough to the home team beating them by 35-6. The opening quarter was one to remember for the Cheetahs as they scored 18 unanswered points to shock the home crowd. It was two rookies who would start the scoring for the Cheetahs as RB Chris Fox rumbled in from 6 yards out to register his second score of the year and Ross Wilson would catch a 39 yard TD pass from veteran Brown. The ever sure connection of Julien Lorelli and Martin Brown would complete the first quarter scoring with a 5 yard touchdown pass.
The second quarter started how the first had ended, just three plays in the Cheetahs found the endzone once more with a lovely fade pass to the corner of the endzone from Martin Brown to Nick Moffat to make the score 25-0 (XP good). The Spartans regained a little bit of pride with a touchdown pass of their own at the end of the second quarter to make the score 25-6.
The scoring slowed in the third and fourth quarters as both sides looked to give game time to rookies. The Spartans would give the Cheetahs two points, a bad snap resulted in them falling on the ball in their own endzone late in third quarter. The fourth quarter only saw one score too, but it was possibly the best of the night as Frank Mayo would break out of a Black Tide gang tackle to score a 40 yard punt return. Constantinos Kornaros caught a quick pass across the middle on the following two point conversion to complete the scoring.
- Almost a month later (29/07), the Cheetahs would travel to Beaverwood Rugby Club to face the Kent Exiles in a top of the table clash. It would not be the football that decided the outcome however, but the weather, as heavy rain around half time washed the pitch markings away. The game was turning out to be a cracker as both teams looked to cement their place as the South East’s best.
TJ Ajayi opened up the scoring for the Cheetahs in the first quarter as he caught a high TD pass from Martin Brown over a Kent defender from around 20 yards out. The extra point was good to make the score 7-0 in the Cheetahs favour. As the first quarter expired the Cheetahs had an opportunity to add to the score, but a bad snap meant that the Field Goal was no good.
The second quarter would be an equally tight affair as the Exiles began to find some rhythm behind a strong running attack. They punched it in the endzone themselves to tie the game up at 7 apiece. But just before half time the Cheetahs would score what would prove to be a vital Touchdown. Martin Brown would roll out on a pass but tuck and run it himself into the endzone from around 5 yards out to give the Cheetahs six points. The extra point was good to give the Cheetahs a 14-7 lead as the rain started to fall heavily from the Kent sky.
Kent came out fired up in the second half, but they were unable to complete their first drive of the half as the field markings had disappeared from the heavy rain and the referees abandoned the game. After a league ruling the score would remain as at the time of abandonment, meaning the Cheetahs had secured their eighth win of the campaign.
- Another month break gave the Cheetahs some rest and recuperation before they travelled their longest distance of the season to Bury on Sunday 27th July. The last encounter between the two sides earlier on in the season resulted in a single point win for the Cheetahs and this game was no different as the Saints pushed them all the way in a 26-27 win.
The first game between the two sides was a low scoring affair (7-6) but The Cheetahs were keen to show that they would not be kept to a solitary score as they rushed to a 20-point lead. Danny Hounslow who would start in place of the absent Martin Brown would hook up with Ajayi deep down the Cheetahs sideline for a 75 yard TD to open up the scoring. Danny Morton added the extra point to make the score 7-0.
After a turnover on downs by the Cheetahs, Bury would start deep in their own territory, but only two plays later, disaster struck for the home side. Rookie Defensive End Robert Brown would not bite on the run and forced a fumble from the Saints receiver on a reverse that Safety and Jason Scurfield would scoop and run into the endzone for the Cheetahs first defensive touchdown of the season. Morton would again add the extra to give the Cheetahs a 14-0 lead. On the Saints next Offensive play, the Cheetahs would strike again as Mark Foster intercepted the pass and returned it to the 2 yard line. One play later Alan Harris would rumble into the promised land and the Cheetahs had amassed a 20 point lead (XP blocked). This seemed to wake the Saints up as they put together a long drive of their own. Strong running and short passing put the saints into range and their QB sneaked into the endzone from inches out. The 2 point conversion was good and the Cheetah lead had been cut to 12.
The Saints had hope as the half expired and would come out looking to keep the momentum on their side in the second half. They must have thought they had done so when Hounslow threw his second interception of the day on the first Cheetah drive, but Mark Foster snatched his second interception of the day to give the ball back to the Cheetahs. Again the Watford side could not capitalise, turning the ball over on downs on the 1 yard line after great running by returning Running Back Ollie Runswick. A few plays later Bury scored their first passing TD of the day, this time the 2pt was no good, but the Cheetahs lead was now only one score.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Dan Howard got his teams fourth turnover of the day to turn this topsy-turvy affair back in favour of the Cheetahs. This time the Offence did not let their side down. Frank Mayo ran into the endzone from 20 yards out to open up a two score lead. Morton would crucially add the extra point to give the Cheetahs a 27-14 lead. Again the Saints did not back down and on the very first play after the kickoff would score a Touchdown pass again. This time, the receiver jinked his way into the endzone after catching the ball 50 yards out. Again the two point was no good and the Cheetahs had a converted TD lead. The Cheetah Offence continued to falter and fumbled the ball away on their own 1 yard line. Bury would not waste this opportunity and added another TD to cut the lead to a single point (26-27). Bury’s lack of kicking game would prove costly however as they failed on another two point conversion. The game was far from done however, as the Cheetahs failed to see the game out on their next offensive drive and were forced to punt the ball away with under two minutes remaining. Bury knew they had to go deep, but after an incomplete pass on fourth down it was left to the Cheetahs to kneel the game out and remain undefeated.
The win meant that the Cheetahs were crowned South East Division Champions and they secured a playoff spot. The next game for the Cheetahs is this Sunday 3rd August against the London Hornets. Victory would mean they complete the regular season undefeated and secure home field advantage for the playoffs.
Game reports by Luke Clark
Photo copyright Garry Neesam Photography.