Offensive MVP – Sam O’Brien – Photo Courtesy of Simon Wardle
The Berkshire Renegades 2013 Premier Season campaign kicked off at the weekend as they travelled to West Country rivals Bristol Aztecs. Lydney RFC was the venue for the first game of the season and under blustery conditions the Renegades kicked off to the Aztecs to put the defence on the field.
The Aztecs put the ball in the hands of veteran running back Kenny Saro driving to the 20 yard line before the Renegades defence held firm. They opted for a field goal which was blocked by #56 Sam Smith.
Starting on their own 2 yard line, the Renegades offense started off their first drive with strong running by running back Sam O’Brien taking the team to the 27 yard line before punting the ball deep into Aztec territory.
With the Aztecs coming out firing they moved the ball downfield to the half way line before failing to convert a short 4th down. Berkshire’s offense sputtered as they were unable to move the ball further before punting the ball again deep to the Aztecs. Outstanding defence on the following play by linebacker Michael Billinghurst forced a fumble and the Renegades offense took over. Driving to the Aztecs 2 yard line, a 4th down passing attempt fell incomplete leaving both teams scoreless at the start of the 2nd quarter.
Strong defensive play from the Renegades followed forcing a punt from the Bristol team which was returned into Aztec territory by Frank Mayo. The following drive again suffered as the Aztecs turned up the pressure from their defence. Starting on their 8 yard line, the Aztecs put together a strong drive, culminating in a 34 yard pass to leave them on the Renegades 2 yard line for an easy score. With the point after attempt good, the Aztecs moved into the lead 7-0. With neither team making headway on their following possessions, the score remained unchanged at the half.
The second half started with the Renegades offense on the field and their first possession ended with Neal Kent punting the ball away to the Aztec 19 yard line. The following Aztecs drive started well with strong running before another deep pass of 37 yards was complete to put the home team in the lead 14-0.
With time running out in the 3rd quarter the Renegades opted to punt the ball away, however it was blocked, setting up the Aztecs on the Renegades 1 yard line. In no short order the Aztecs punched it in, but missed the point after attempt. The score line was now 20-0.
The 4th quarter saw a resurgence from the Renegades offense as they were able to put together a balance of passing and running that resulted in an 18 yard pass to Ally Reid for a Renegades touchdown. Going for 2 points after was unsuccessful with the pass falling just short. The remainder of the 4th quarter passed without significant gain by either team as both offenses traded drives trying to find a final score. The final score was Bristol Aztecs 20 – 6 Berkshire Renegades.
Head Coach Paul Gordon was quoted after the game as saying, “A disappointing result, but one which I felt we held our own for majority of the first half. Bristol are an established premiership team and to go in at half time only 7 – 0 down with an opportunity to score early on left on the field shows how close things could have been. We have the rest of the season to concentrate on and now turn our attention to our home game this Sunday.