It's a romp for Cardinals

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Ipswich Cardinals 39 Bristol Aztecs 6IPSWICH Cardinals got off to a flying start against the Bristol Aztecs on Sunday and never looked back.They chalked up their fifth win in as many games in the amazing success story that is their first crack at life in Division One.

Ipswich Cardinals 39 Bristol Aztecs 6

IPSWICH Cardinals got off to a flying start against the Bristol Aztecs on Sunday and never looked back.

They chalked up their fifth win in as many games in the amazing success story that is their first crack at life in Division One.

In the two sides first ever meeting, the Northgate Stadium crowd witnessed another improved performance by the Maritime Cargo Processing backed hosts, with the usual powerhouse display from the defense being complemented by some sublime special teams play, helping the offense by shortening the pitch on every possession.

The Cardinals jumped out in front when the visitors fumbled away possession on their first drive. Speedy runner Steve Coles exploited the good blocking out wide before simply pinning his ears back and outstripping the mesmerised defenders to score from 44 yards out.

Kicker Sandy Francis added the conversion to make it a quick fire 7-0 lead.

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On the Aztecs next drive, the Ipswich defense were given an indication of the visitors intent as they utilised their enormous bulk up front in an attempt to over-power their hosts.

Tough gang tackling and speed to the ball carriers snuffed out the possession though and Bristol were forced to punt.

Stuart Brereton showed why he is such a dangerous weapon in the Cardinals armoury when he jinked and weaved his way upfield on the return back into the Aztecs half.

Again, Coles used his speed to cap the short drive to the Aztec endzone and after just a few minutes of game time, the hosts had a two-touchdown lead.

Francis' point after attempt just missed to the left and the scoreboard read 13-0.

Bristol responded well and their offense began clicking, albeit sporadically against the bruising Cardinal "D". The quarterback found his favourite target, the big tight end, on a number of passes but the Aztec ground game was never really established, limiting their offense considerably.

The Ipswich power back Paul Borstel was next to score as the Suffolk side's running game proved too much for the travellers from the west country. His eight yard run capped another convincing drive that looked to have taken the game from Bristol's reach

altogether. Francis converted for a 20-point lead.

The Aztecs weren't about to throw the towel in just yet though and were determined to get something out of their five-hour journey east and charged right back into it.

The heavyweights of the Bristol offensive line knuckled down and forced their opposite numbers on to the back foot with a time-

consuming drive that culminated in a one-yard plunge from their big fullback.

The defense stiffened also and both sides exchanged another possession, leaving the Cardinals just five seconds left in the half to score again. And, unlikely as that may sound, that's exactly what they did when Francis kicked an amazing 50 yard field goal to end the half with the score at 23-6.

The second half began and, after some tactical changes by the Ipswich coaching staff, the defense tightened even further, forcing the Aztecs hapless offense into

punting away every possession.

This played right into the Cardinals hands as, unlike previous matches, they lined up with two return men instead of the usual one.

And what a pair they are! Brereton and Coles are turning into the most respected athletes in the whole of the BSL Division One, and on this display it's easy to see why.

Time after time they would jink or speed their way back into the visitors' half of the field, giving quarterback Marvin Jimerson and the rest of the Ipswich offense the luxury of only having to move the ball some 40 yards at most.

Borstel grabbed his second score, in his usual bullish manner, to extend the lead to 29-6 and soon after, Francis kicked another field goal, this time from a much closer range to take the match further and further out of sight.

Linebackers Luke Box and Cartez Hester, along with lineman Shaun Rapley, led the tackling statistics but those three were just the highlight film for another outstanding defensive performance overall.

The Ipswich defense has conceded just 18 points now in five games – the entire league's best record !

Having caught two interceptions already whilst playing safety, Brereton held on to a 26 yard Jimerson pass for the game's final touchdown and with Francis adding the extra point attempt, the sporting Bristol lads admitted defeat to the better team.

After the home team's celebrations had cooled slightly, the visitors all said they had enjoyed the clean, yet combative affair at Northgate, but promised a much harder contest in the return match this weekend.

Should the Cardinals' unbelievable success story continue there, a play-off place would be secured and all thoughts then turn to the games against the two Southern conference heavyweights, the PA Knights of Surrey, who thrashed the Cardinals in the Division Two Britbowl championship game two years ago and the Olympians of London, unbeaten in this country for more than five years!

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