Cardinals defeat local rivals Gladiators

IN THEIR first competitive meeting in 12 years, Ipswich Cardinals managed their first win - 28-0 - over local rivals Colchester Gladiators.The awful playing conditions at the Wivenhoe Town Football Club ground helped the underdog Essex side but there was still only going to be one winner in this one-sided affair.

IN THEIR first competitive meeting in 12 years, Ipswich Cardinals managed their first win - 28-0 - over local rivals Colchester Gladiators.

The awful playing conditions at the Wivenhoe Town Football Club ground helped the underdog Essex side but there was still only going to be one winner in this one-sided affair.

Constant rain throughout hampered the offensive output of both teams but it was the visitors' far superior firepower and rampaging defence that sealed the scoreline.

The Cardinals kicked off to the hosts and it became apparent very early that Gladiators' quarterback Rob Turner and his offensive unit were going to have to work extremely hard to get any joy from this Ipswich defence. Turner hit the ground underneath tackles from Sandijs Janson and Adam Vander Zanden before running back Dave Hogarth was met just as he took the hand-off from Turner in a crunching tackle from Shaun Rapley. The shaken Gladiators offence left the field and the ball was punted upfield.

Cardinals quarterback Chris Jackson had no such problems moving the ball and on that opening possession he threw a perfect 34-yard pass to Eddie Grey for the game's first score. Vander Zanden chipped the extra point kick through the uprights for a seven-point Ipswich lead.

The rest of the first half proved frustrating for both teams as the Gladiators continued to struggle against the marauding Cardinal defence, while the visitors continuously showed their over eagerness and constantly committed infringements that culminated in lost yardage and penalties.

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A string of three 15-yard personal fouls against the Ipswich players provided the hosts with their most productive drive of the half but that was soon snuffed out when Jackson connected with tight end Luke Box at the back of the endzone from nine yards out. Vander Zanden kicked the extra point attempt successfully and the rain-soaked half ended with the score at 14-0 in favour of Ipswich.

Conditions worsened after the break and the rain came down harder than ever, testing an already shivering crowd. It was the Cardinals support that warmed the most from their team's performance though as, early after the restart, their side were on the scoreboard again. With the Gladiators pinned deep in their own half, Turner was getting blasted from all sides as Paul Barclay, Janson, Rapley and co pinned their ears back and swarmed in for the kill.

A massive unblocked hit from Vander Zanden ended Turner's day as he spilled the ball under the bone-jarring collision. The tackler gratefully pounced on the loose ball in the end zone and a two-point safety was recorded to make it 16-0.

Puddles were settling on the playing surface by now and the already- waterlogged footballs were becoming almost impossible to handle, despite the ballboys best efforts. Adopting a more conservative ball control type offence was the Cardinals only option and a series of short passes from both Jackson and, in the fourth quarter Grey, combined with powerful runs from Paul Borstel, led to the third touchdown.

It was the human battering ram Borstel who benefited from more excellent blocking from the Ipswich linemen when he drove in from sixyards out for a touchdown.

Towards the latter stages, as at Kent a fortnight earlier, coach James Mitchell began to introduce the novice players on the Cardinals roster.

Running backs Ryan Chambers and Tim Styles both got some carries and it was Suffolk rugby union player Styles who finished off the scoring with an excellent cutback into the Gladiators endzone to seal the victory.

Head coach Mitchell summarised the game most effectively afterwards when he claimed: “It is great to get the win but I'm not happy with our offensive production and the turnovers and penalties on both sides of the ball.”

Another shutout by the Cardinals defence sees the Suffolk side sitting atop the BAFL Division One South table after two games.

But Cardinals' next opponents, the Sussex Thunder, await this weekend in Crawley.

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