Colchester Gladiators beat London Hornets in defensive battle
- Credit: Archant
BAFA SFC 1 South Colchester Gladiators 17 London Hornets 6 The Colchester Gladiators’ 2017 season will go down to the wire as they beat the London Hornets in the first of their two straight encounters to see who finishes bottom of the table and faces relegation to Division Two.
In a tough, defensive encounter, the Gladiators adapted to the conditions better, and edged the visitors thanks to a defensive score, another touchdown from the Wickham brothers, Rob and Jake, and a field goal from Nathan Brown.
It was the Gladiators’ defence that opened the scoring near the end of the first half. After pinning the Hornets close to their own line, Dan Jones sacked the London QB, forcing the ball loose.
Curtis Bourke, playing defensive end rather than his customary QB position, picked up the bouncing ball, and returned it to the endzone for a touchdown. Brown’s PAT extended the lead to 7-0, which the Gladiators took into half-time.
The third quarter was mainly a stalemate and a battle of field position as the wet conditions hampered both teams’ efforts, with Josh Mews picking off a Hornet pass to thwart one drive before five consecutive possessions consisting of three plays and a punt.
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A good punt return by the Hornets advanced the ball to the home 36 where they took full and immediate advantage, connecting for a 36 yard TD. The extra point was blocked to leave the Gladiators with a precarious one point lead at 7-6, going in to the final period.
The fourth quarter began with Jake Wickham returning a Hornet punt to the London 38 and it was the Gladiators’ turn to take advantage of the short field to extend their lead. Collision bulled his way through the heart of the London defence for 15 yards before the Wickham brothers finished off the final 23 for six points. Brown kicked the PAT to make the score 14-6.
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Brown added a 25-yard field goal to make it 17-6 and, with time running out, the Gladiators’ defence stepped up and showed no mercy to finish the game.
The Gladiators now travel to the Hornets this Sunday (2.30pm), knowing that only a victory could keep them up.