Ips Cardinals 31 - Chiltern Cheetahs 14

The Ipswich Cardinals ended their regular season campaign with a tremendous victory over the in-form Chiltern Cheetahs.

The Ipswich Cardinals ended their regular season campaign with a tremendous victory over the in-form Chiltern Cheetahs.

The atmosphere generated by a superb crowd spurred the Maritime Cargo Processing-backed outfit to a solid 31-14 win – ending the Cheetahs' slim play-off chances but ensuring confidence is high in the Cardinals' camp prior to their own post-season action.

As has been the case all season, the Cardinals' triumph was based on a dependable ground attack and an awesome defense that destroys opposition offenses.

The appreciative crowd at Northgate Sports Centre were treated to some outstanding displays of gang tackling, skilful blocking and dazzling runs.

Right from the outset the hosts grabbed the initiative, scoring on their first three possessions.

A four-yard dart from running back Mark Wallis and a three-yard blast from partner Paul Borstell were added to by kicker Sandy Francis as the Cardinals soared into a 14-0 lead.

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Francis then amazed everyone present when he kicked a field goal high and true through the uprights from 47 yards, which would have been good from ten yards further out, to extend the lead to 17 points.

Chiltern were obviously rocked by their explosive hosts, never expecting to have to face that kind of opening, but they regrouped very well and it didn't take long for them to make adjustments and force themselves back into the match.

It had been made very clear that they would struggle to make any kind of headway on the ground, so they wisely began to pass their way upfield to carve out scoring opportunities.

Two touchdown passes brought the Cheetahs right back into contention, although both their two extra point attempts failed.

However, the lead had been reduced to just five points and at half-time momentum had swung sharply in the visitors' favour.

The interval talk in the Ipswich dressing room centred on how the side had to knuckle down and wrestle back the initiative if they were to put the game out of reach.

The Ipswich offense responded well. A long, time-consuming, well-executed drive was capitalised on when Borstell grabbed his brace of scores, again from close range and again Francis converted.

Defensively, the Cardinals stepped up a gear and, as well as snuffing out runs effectively, they managed to get to grips with the Cheetahs' passing attack.

Numerous pass attempts were knocked off course or sent wayward by pressure on the quarterback.

Taz Hester, Shaun Rapley, Peter Moore and captain Paul Mellor had outstanding games in a superb team performance.

Utility defender Paul Barclay was desperately unlucky after he intercepted a long pass attempt close to the Ipswich endzone, when he was judged to have run backwards into the scoring zone, thus awarding the visitors a two-point safety.

This unfortunate play was the only scoring the guests could claim in the whole of the second half and the Ipswich lead was added to later in the fourth quarter when quarterback Ian Girling rolled out to his right before throwing a scoring pass to his tight end Matt Donaldson from 19 yards out.

Fittingly, it was Francis who ended the scoring with his fifth successful attempt of the contest.

Club owner Ralph Alexander and the rest of his organisation must now await the results of next week's matches around the British Senior League Division Two to see who the club now meets in the first of the knock out play-off stages.

These games are played between the top eight sides in the league and with this result and their 5-1-2 record, the Cardinals will finish in either fifth or sixth position.

To follow the latest news around the league just click on www.bsl.co.uk or visit the Cardinals' new website at www.eteamz.com/ipswichcardinals

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