It all comes down to this. The Hertfordshire Cheetahs versus the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts for the mantle of SFC 2 Champions.
Each of these teams have only lost one game in 2018 – to each other. Portsmouth were 23-12 victors when they hosted the Cheetahs, before Hertfordshire shutout the Dreadnoughts 20-0 in the reverse fixture at St Albans. The #3 seed Cheetahs went on to beat the Ipswich Cardinals and London Blitz B in the post-season, whilst the #4 seed Portsmouth outfit faced off against the Torbay Trojans and South Wales Warriors en route to the final.
The game will be played at Leicester Road Stadium. It will also be streamed live thanks to Onside Productions.
Regular Season Head to Head: Cheetahs – Dreadnoughts
Points For: 342-245
Points Against: 47-43
HC and DC Craig Barnes said that the final “represents the end of a long and exciting journey for us as a team. The squad has bonded as the year progressed, and all three facets of the game have stepped up when needed. So we have one last battle with a familiar foe. I expect full commitment from the players, if they give their all I am confident they will leave no doubt who is the best team in the SFC 2.”
OC Will Sparke emphasised that whilst “we are very happy to have secured promotion, our eyes are very much on the prize and we know that we have a serious challenge ahead of us. We know that Portsmouth have a tough physical defence but we have been gifted plenty of opportunities to study them and learn where they can be beaten. Let me make this clear – we intend to beat them and bring home the trophy.”
Chairman Luke Clark is excited to make history. “The enormity of this game will not be lost on anyone. For only the fourth time in the Cheetahs 32 year history we will be playing in a bowl game. The whole programme, Flag, Youth, Junior and Alumni will be at the game and watching from all over the world to see whether the current group of players can become the first winners of a final. We are proud of where this programme has come, fighting through thick and thin to get here and I can guarantee that the players will be playing every down like it is their last.”
This is the 4th bowl game in Cheetahs history. The previous 3 have ended in defeat.
1997 BSL Division 2 Final
The Cheetahs made their first Bowl appearance in their 11th season in 1997. The team started the season with two wins, but the good start was followed by three consecutive defeats to leave the Cheetahs 2-3 at the half way point of the season. Staring a losing season in the face, they managed to turn it around, winning their next five games, finishing second in their group and qualifying for the playoffs for only the second time in their history. An away win against the Leicester Huntsmen, 27-14, was followed by a 26–16 home win over the Yorkshire Rams in the semi-final, a result secured by two interception touchdowns. The team then travelled to play the Division 2 playoff final at the Saffron Lane Stadium in Leicester against the Bristol Aztecs. The Aztecs had only conceded 32 points all season, but even though the Cheetahs were able to score, the Aztecs eventually ran out 6–27 winners.
2004 BSL Division 2 Final
2004 was one of the clubs most successful seasons ever. The team won all 10 regular season games in Division 2 South East (a feat only repeated by the 2014 Cheetahs, who lost in the Quarter Final). They finished top seeds in the division and secured home field advantage in the playoffs, scoring 235 points and only conceding 60 along the way. A 30–6 win over the South Wales Warriors in the quarter-final was followed by a 34–6 semi-final win over the Sussex Thunder. This set up their second playoff final, this time played at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield in front of 1440 spectators. However, they were unable to finish the season with another win, losing 16–32 to the Doncaster Mustangs.
2005 BAFL Division 1A Final
Despite losing the final, the Cheetahs were promoted to Division 1A of the British American Football League. After winning their first match against the Southern Sundevils, they struggled at this higher level and only managed to win one more of their games, ultimately finishing third out of four teams in their group. However, this was still enough to gain a wild-card slot in the playoffs and they made the most of this opportunity, defeating the Staffordshire Surge, 18-12, and the London Blitz, 9-6, to gain a place in the final for the second successive season. As with their first playoff final eight years before, they played the Bristol Aztecs but lost 7-0.
We’re all confident it will be 4th time lucky. Let’s go #CheetahPride!