By Oliver Raffle
Frank Mayo returning a kick during the game - Photo Courtesy of Holly Downes
The Berkshire Renegades held their second home game of the season against last season’s second ranked team, the London Warriors. The Warriors were the first and only team to break the London Blitz’s impressive domestic winning streak and were hotly tipped to win the National Championship last season.
The Renegades opted to put their defence on the field to start the game and after a good coverage of the opening kick return, started just short of midfield. The Warriors drove hard down the field with their first score coming as the running back bounced out and around the Renegades defense for a quick score.
Ally Reid took the ensuing kick off and returned the ball to the twenty yard line and the Renegades offense were on the field. The Renegades opening drive started badly and the normally strong running attack was bursty but smothered by the Warriors defense. All initial progress made was nullified by a penalty and despite quick feet and several changes in direction the Renegades were forced to punt the ball away.The following drive from the Warriors was efficient before a quick pass to the back of the end zone for another score. With the ensuing kick going out of bounds, the Renegades against started just short of midfield. With a series of short passes either falling short of their intended targets or well defended by the Warriors, the Renegades were forced to punt the ball again.
Both teams exchanged punts and the first quarter ended with the Warriors leading 14-0. With the Warriors in control in the 2nd quarter the Renegades defense stepped up and intercepted a long pass to put the Renegades back on the field but deep in their own territory. A defensive miscalculation allowed William Nchanjala a chance at daylight, ripping off a 9 yard run. The Warriors defense stepped up, swarming to the ball on the following plays before forcing a punt which went out of bounds setting up the Warriors with a short field. They capitalised on this with a quick score. Warriors 21-0.
With the following drive being crushed by the Warriors defense, they came up with the ball after stripping quarterback Ally Reid of the ball. With a short field, the Warriors soon scored again. Warriors 28-0.
Despite some strong running, the Renegades offense was unable to make any progress and another short punt put the Warriors on the field at midfield. Despite the defense’s best efforts (including a tipped pass that was deflected to a Warriors wide receiver) the Warriors moved the ball down field and scored again. Warriors 35-0.
Another offensive drive followed by a punt set up the Warriors at midfield with time running out in the first half. Defense stepped up and forced a turnover with moments left, however the Warriors defense soon stripped the ball for another touchdown. Warriors 42-0 at the end of the first half.
With a mountain to climb in the second half, the Renegades started with their offense on the field. Punt, Warriors scored on their following drive, 49-0. Following on from the next Renegades drive, a bad punt gave the Warriors good field position and they marched down the field again to score 56-0. A bad snap caused a fumble which was recovered by the Warriors defense for another touchdown put the score at 63-0 at the end of the third quarter. With time ticking away in the final quarter, the Warriors were able to score again and a late flurry of defense saw the Renegades intercept the Warriors giving the offense the ball on the 3 yard line. The Warriors defense pushed hard and brought down the running back in the end zone for a safety to put the final stamp on the game at 72-0.
After the game, Head Coach Paul Gordon said, “The result on Sunday was a setback but there are positives we can take from the game. The London Warriors were the beaten finalists last year so that shows the calibre of the team we faced.
This is our first year at National Elite Level and we are taking the opportunity to learn and grow.
We are playing against some of the league’s best players and coaches and will be competing in every game we take part in.
I am proud of what we have achieved, we remain focused as a club on our goals for this season and now look forward to our game against the London Olympians.”