Cardinals make it three wins in a row

THERE'S a saying in gridiron circles that states “offence wins games, but defence wins championships”. The Ipswich Cardinals are hoping that little pearl of wisdom holds true as they recorded their third shutout victory in BAFL Division One South on Sunday, registering their best start to a season in years.

THERE'S a saying in gridiron circles that states “offence wins games, but defence wins championships”.

The Ipswich Cardinals are hoping that little pearl of wisdom holds true as they recorded their third shutout victory in BAFL Division One South on Sunday, registering their best start to a season in years.

The Suffolk side went to Crawley in Sussex for the first ever meeting between the Cardinals and Thunder, and came back with a perfect three and zero record after a comprehensive 23-0 victory.

Based on another bruising display by the impenetrable Cardinal defence, together with a balanced offensive showing, this result keeps them atop the division with 71 points scored and just two conceded in three away games to begin the 2007 season.

From the outset it was clear the Thunder were far more of a threat than the Cardinals previous two opponents, Colchester and Kent, as home team quarterback Paul Robinson lead an ominous looking opening drive up field.

The Sussex outfit looked well drilled and executed their plays in a very businesslike manner, with Robinson combining short passes to the outside with a mixture of running plays that probed the Cardinals defensive wall for any hint of weakness.

Most Read

As has been the case thus far, those weaknesses failed to materialise though and the hosts were forced to punt the ball away. Both sides traded fumbles before the first productive Ipswich drive.

With Stu Brereton finally receiving league clearance to play, the Cardinals finally had a one two punch with fellow running back Paul Borstel lining up behind quarterback Chris Jackson in the backfield.

Those two had rushing gains and after a long pass interference penalty against the Thunder, Jackson threw a perfect pass into the arms of the speedy Matt Nicol for a 40 yard touchdown.

Nicol usually plys his trade at cornerback, using his speed and agility to cover opposing wide receivers and his strength to tackle often much larger running backs.

Head coach James Mitchell has had no hesitation including Nicol into an already explosive Cardinal receiving corps though and the Chelmsford born sprinter fully repaid that faith.

The point after attempt missed to the left for a six-point advantage.

In to the second quarter the Cardinals defence adjusted well to the Sussex game plan and began to limit the previously successful short passing game by “blanketing” the receivers in the short to mid range comfort zone that Robinson had looked so accomplished passing to earlier.

This forced the playcaller into throwing much longer pass attempts, which played into the hands of the far quicker and more athletic Cardinal defenders such as Nicol and Vic Williams.

Any attempts to run the ball were generally dealt with very harshly as a swarming group of tacklers, led mostly by linebacker Adam Vander Zanden, thwarted the ball carriers advances.

Luke Box and Sandijs Janson both forced fumbles before half-time, underlining the power of the gang tackling Suffolk side.

The Cardinals offense stuttered somewhat in that second period, one highlight though, when a punt was faked and advanced with interest by Eddie Grey. Unfortunately, that inspirational call led to nought and the half ended with a slim six point lead to the visitors.

After the break it was clear the next team to score would hold the advantage as time went on.

Both teams were defending well, although the Sussex secondary had trouble keeping tabs on Grey, who emerged as Jackson's favourite target in the passing game.

A thirty yard reception by Grey set up a 30-yard field goal attempt for Vander Zanden, who duly obliged to increase the Cardinal lead by three at nine to zero.

With that score the Thunder visibly wilted, frustrated at their inability to outwit the marauding Cardinal defence and somewhat self imploding themselves by giving up silly penalties in key situations that helped an Ipswich offence that was now playing like a team that fully realised their defensive buddies had this game by the throat.

It was time to go in for the kill. Another 30 yard touchdown grab by Nicol from Jackson looked effortless and before the end Borstel blasted through a wiltering defence for the third touchdown of the afternoon to seal the victory at 23-0.

A fantastic start to the 2007 campaign continues then as momentum gathers pace toward the Cardinals first home game in two weeks at Northgate, against the title favourites, the Farnham Knights.

Until then the Ipswich team continues to practise while the GM and owner Ralph Alexander wishes to remind any young men looking to take up the sport that there is a kitted junior team now in training and anyone is welcome to come and give it a go.

All sessions begin at 11am at the clubs Northgate base in Sidegate Lane in Ipswich and further details can be obtained by calling Ipswich 410887.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter