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Cheetahs heavily beaten 25-7 at MK
MK had won the last three games against Watford and knocked the Cheetahs out of play-off contention 2 years running so on a gloriously warm, sunny day at Emerson Valley Stadium the Cheetahs were desperate for revenge.
The visitors received the opening kick-off and started promisingly when rookie RB Matt Bunce ran for 13 yards and veteran tight end Cliff Moles had a 12 yard reception giving Watford consecutive first downs on their first two plays. However, costly penalties halted the drive and they were forced to punt. An impressive return from Milton Keynes #21 gave the home team great advantage starting their first drive on the Cheetahs 37 yard line. They were soon able to take advantage of this when #9 had a 21 yard reception for the first score of the game, with #33 adding the extra point. Cheetahs RB Kenny Gayle was able to gain 14 yards and a first down but Cheetahs QB Martin Brown was picked off by the Milton Keynes defence on the next play. Fortunately for Watford the play was called back for a roughing the passer penalty. However, Watford was unable to capitalise on this good fortune and were once again forced to punt. As the first quarter wound down, a 24 yard reception from QB Brown for AJ Olatunji gave the Cheetahs hope but Brown was picked off again by the Pathfinders with no penalties to call this one back the eventful first quarter ended with the home team leading by 7.
Having recovered their own fumble MK were held by the Cheetahs defence but an impressive 40 yard field goal by #33 saw their lead increase to 10. Now desperate to get on the scoreboard the Cheetahs moved the ball down the field with impressive running from RB Bunce gaining two first downs but once again costly penalties left the Cheetahs facing 4th & 12 on the MK 36 yard line which they are unable to convert. Pathfinders American QB Mike Keogh was soon able to get the home team into the visitors half when he found #86 for a 41 yard reception however the Cheetahs defence did enough to hold MKP #33 to 3 more with a field goal, this time from 35 yards. Watford’s next drive was cut short again when a fumble was recovered by MK, but it was soon the turn of MK QB Keogh to be picked off when Veteran Safety and Youth Head Coach Mark Foster intercepted the pass in the end zone and ran it out to the 15 yard line. However good fortune soon turned to dismay when a Brown pass intended for Olatunji was returned to their own 4 yard line. This time the defence were unable to stop the 6 point score when MKP FB #38 rumbled into the end zone for the score. A failed extra point attempt saw the Pathfinders go into half time with a healthy 19 point lead.
Watford started the second half positively when the defence halted the Pathfinders drive putting the ball back in the Cheetahs hands. Having gained a first down it looked like the drive would be over when an incomplete pass on 4th and 6 looked to have given the ball back to MK but a penalty of pass interference and a personal foul on MK gave Watford first down just 13 yards out. RB Gayle carried to the 2 and a first down, but was then stopped for a loss on the next play. On 2nd and Goal from the 8, Full Back Alex Gordon took carried to the 2 yard line and on the next play was able to run in for the score. Kicker/WR Mark Ward was able to add the extra point cutting the deficit down to 12. The momentum then swung further in the Cheetah’s favour, when LB Gordon Carver recovered a Pathfinders fumble as soon as the Pathfinders came back on Offence. However, on the ensuing drive a fumble was recovered by MK and the Cheetah’s looked to be running out of time to mount a comeback as the 3rd quarter ended.
A missed FG by Milton Keynes gave Watford another chance, but they were unable to cut the deficit due to strong work by the Pathfinders D led by their ever-impressive DT Andy Larwill, and Milton Keynes #48 heaped more misery on Watford adding 6 more points to their tally. A failed extra point attempt and no further scores saw the game finish with a 25-7 victory for the home team.
After the game BAFANL Lead Co-ordinator and former Cheetahs Head Coach Drew Anderson made a presentation of MVP selected by the referees to Watford’s RB Dan Fay.
On Sunday the Cheetahs will be desperate to get back on track when they face a difficult game against the visiting Peterborough Saxons at Fullerians Rugby Club, kick-off 2 30 pm.