Colchester Gladiators lose to Cambridgeshire Cats
After the high of recording their first Premier Division victory, over the East Kent Mavericks, the Colchester Gladiators’ hopes were high that they could build on that when they opened their home programme against the Cats from Cambridgeshire.
Unfortunately they were brought firmly back down to earth with a bump as they struggled to generate much offence, and the Cats took advantage of some sloppy tackling to run out comfortable winners at Colchester Rugby Club.
The Cats received the ball to start the game and set a marker on the game’s first play with a 29-yard run for a first down. They completed the drive seven plays later when their running back scored from a yard out. The extra point was good and the Cats led 7-0.
The Gladiators threatened to get straight back into the game with Chris Jackson running for nine, five and 10 yards on their first three plays and when Curtis Bourke found Andy Clarke for a 23-yard gain, the Gladiators had moved to the Cats 35.
But after a fumble for a loss, Bourke threw his first interception of the day to turn the ball over to the visitors.
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However, the Gladiators did get back into it just four plays later when, after good defence and a Cats fumble, they elected to punt on fourth down.
The kick was shanked straight to Raul Barclay who ended up with the simple task of running a few yards untouched into the Cats’ end zone for a touchdown. Unfortunately Nathan Brown’s extra point attempt was wide but the Cats’ lead was just a single point at 7-6.
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That was as close as the hosts came though and from the ensuing kick off, the lead was back to seven points when the Cats returned the ball spectacularly all the way for a 94-yard score. The point after was again good, making the score 13-6.
This was increased to 19-6 as the quarter ended after the Gladiators were forced to punt, and a good return took them to the Gladiators’ 27, setting up a 16-yard pass completion for the third Cambridge touchdown of the opening period.
After just 15 minutes of play, Colchester trailed 19-6.
That was the way it stayed until just before half-time, when the Gladiators were due to punt from their own 36 but a fumbled snap gifted possession to Cambridge just 22 yards out and they scored to make it 26-6 at the interval.
They extended the lead to 33-6 after the break, and the Gladiators were playing for pride.
And they duly engineered their best drive of the day, travelling 85 yards in 11 plays. The drive started with a 36-yard completion from Slieker to Vic Williams and good running from Jackson, and another completion, this time to Ash Latter, took the ball to the Cambridge two.
On fourth down, Jackson barged his way over the line for six points and a 33-12 score. The two point pass attempt was no good but the score appeared a little more respectable.
Head Coach Matt Roberts said: “We gave up good field position all day and that just won’t cut it in this league. We have a lot to work on before our next game but we will look at the film as a team and make sure we prepare as well as we can.”
The Gladiators’ next game is on Sunday against the current Premier champions, the London Warriors, at Colchester Rugby Club, 2.30pm kick off. The Warriors team features TV personality Vernon Kay so a bumper crowd is expected.