The Cheetahs win their first playoff game since 2005 with a resounding 44-14 win against the 6th seed Ipswich Cardinals.
The home side started fast, the defence forcing the stop and giving the offence the ball back early. The home side began to drive, finding various ways to attack Ipswich defence and the effort was rewarded with a catch and run score from receiver Ben Weeks, diving for the pylon after key blocking from TJ Ajayi. Rowan Huggins converted the 2xp. The fact that it was playoff football quickly became evident, as Ipswich responded soon after. A powerful running game proved its worth as a broken tackle took the away side to the goalline, from which they punched the ball in. At 8-7 to the
Cheetahs, the game entered a nervous phase in which both teams exchanged punts. The D, starting to get a hold on the power run, were unlucky not to force at least one turnover when two forced fumbles were blown dead. They remained resolute though and consistently got the ball back for the offence, who – having stalled on a couple of previous drives – got moving again via the familiar sight of a long, broken run from Adam Adeniji, before the equally familiar sight of Huggins converting for another 6 and following the 2xp, moving the score to 16-7.
The home side sensed blood and, with the start of the second half, settled into a more comfortable pattern. The defensive line were now swarming to the power run, forcing Ipswich to attempt the sort of passes which defensive backs Max Duffin and Josh Dunnet made light work of. The O were rolling too, and it wasn’t long before they started to put the game away. Luke Neal caught a ball over
the middle, Ipswich squeezed inside and QB Martin Brown unfurled a perfect deep shot on the outside for Huggins which he took in his stride for another score. Getting the ball back almost immediately thanks in no small part to a solid pass break up from fill-in safety Ajayi, the home side marched up the field spreading the ball around before Adeniji busted an outside run for the score his performance deserved.
The Cardinals reminded the home side that they weren’t done and dusted yet, again utilising their powerful ground attack to hammer home the touchdown. However, the Cheetahs were in rampant mood and, semi-final in sight, went for the jugular. With little time left on the clock, the offence worked the ball solidly for a few plays before Adeniji burst through the huge whole created by his offensive line, patiently waited for the blocks of Ajayi and slot receiver Bradley Clarke to develop and took the ball the whole of 60 yards for his second of the day, Huggins adding the 2. QB Jake Barnes entered the field, tossed a pick, and made up for it almost immediately tossing the perfect pass to the most open player in the history of Britball – receiver Conor Baron – for the final score of the game.
The Cheetahs home campaign is now over, but will face off against the Blitz B, winners of the SFC 2 East Conference, in the semi final this Sunday for a chance to play in the final on September 2nd.
Offensive Vice-Captain TJ Ajayi, who played on all three units, was pleased with a personal performance “especially playing on both sides of the ball. I know that I can play at a higher level which excites me as I still feel I can give a lot more to the team. As a team I think we played well on all sides, but there are still some areas we need to work on which is a good thing – it means we can push to reach our full potential”.
Defensive Vice-Captain Andy Dickins was pleased with the result, but expects more in the next round: “This was a great result and gives the club a fantastic opportunity to reach the final and secure promotion to the next tier. We were however a bit disappointed with the performance. We realise that we will have to be better on all three units next week in order to defeat the Blitz.”
Rushing: Adam Adeniji (2)
Receiving: Rowan Huggins (2), Ben Weeks, Conor Baron