S. Wales Warriors 6 - 17 Sussex Thunder

April 30, 2017 - 2:30 pm at Brighton

Thunder Echo’s over South Wales

By Twm Owen – http://www.dai-sport.com/south-wales-warriors-late-rumble-fails-deny-thunder/

American Football BAFA Division One Central

South Wales Warriors 8, Sussex Thunder 14

Head coach Geraint Roberts was left stunned as his South Wales Warriors fell to a third successive defeat in which they scored in the closing moments.

Divisional leaders Sussex Thunder had established a 14 point lead at half time on Sunday and looked untroubled by the Warriors until the closing stages.

After the officials sounded the two minute warning to full-time, Warriors quarterback Max Ayoul found wide receiver Joshua Hurford for a 30-yard touchdown pass for the home team’s first score of the day.

But for most of British American Football Association Division One Central fixture, the Warriors had put in a dismal offensive performance which meant they couldn’t take advantage of their defence shutting out the visitors in the second-half.

“Again, we played poorly in the first-half, so, at half-time I asked the players for a reaction,” said Roberts, whose side start a run of five away games without having secured any wins from their opening three fixtures, all played at their Llanharan home.

“I think the players put in a defensive performance in the second-half and unfortunately just came up short again. It’s the third game in a row we’ve scored on our final offensive drive and we just haven’t been able to do enough to get a win.

“I think 14 points was maybe a little out of reach for us in the second half.”

Thunder line backer Kamil Janowski picked off Ayoul late in the fourth quarter and looked like he would seal the victory for the Sussex side. Janowski collected the interception deep in his own half and sprinted down the left hand sideline and only a last ditch tackle by Adam Hilton, inside the Warriors 15-yard line, prevented a touchdown.

But despite the Thunder gaining a first and goal at the host’s three yard line ,the Warriors defence weathered the storm and four times the Thunder were unable to add a third touchdown to their total.

When the Warriors took possession under the shadow of their own posts, Ayoul found Stewart Bicker with a short pass down the right hand sideline which the receiver collected and raced to the Thunder’s 40-yard line.

Sussex Thunder’s Ben Chukwu-Onu caused problems for the Warriors. Pic: Craig Thomas. Tall Boy Images.

A combination of short runs and the Thunder’s defensive indiscipline gained the Warriors a further 10 yards and on third down Ayoul looked deep down the right and hit Hurford in the end zone.

Ayoul then connected with Warren Coombes, slanting across the middle, to add the extra two points.

That left the Warriors, with a minute remaining, again having to try and collect an onside kick to give their offense another opportunity to score. But Sam Oldfield gathered the ball for the Thunder and once running back Ben Chukwu-Onu gained a further first down, QB Eber Kington was able to take a knee to run out the clock on his side’s third successive road win.

Thunder coach Ian Ellis had rested Chukwu-Onu, who’d gained more than 100 yards rushing in the first-half alone, for most of the third and fourth quarters.

The Warriors had struggled to contain the fast and powerful runner in the first-half and he marched his team into striking range on their first possession.

But when former Great Britain QB Kington attempted his first pass on the wet afternoon he was picked off by Jonathan Gould.

However, the Warriors offense was unable to take advantage and on the ensuing possession the potency of the Thunder attack was apparent.

Geography teacher Kington showed he knew exactly where the end zone was as he looked deep to his right and hit WR Chris Evans perfectly in his stride for a 54-yard touchdown catch and run. Kicker Danny Wallace added the extra point.

In the second quarter, Chuckwu-Onu tore the Warriors defence to shreds. He sprinted down the left hand sideline and spun out of the grasp of several tacklers before cutting across the field where he was eventually brought down in the centre of the field after a 37-yard gain. Penalties cost the Thunder, however, and the drive was stopped when Warriors stalwart defender James Henderson intercepted a deep Kington pass on third and 20.

The Warriors ineffective offense again went three and out but on the following drive the Thunder kept the ball on the ground with Chuckwu-Onu.

From 30 yards he sprinted to the right to cross for his team’s second touchdown. Wallace again added the conversion.

Thunder head coach Ellis said at full time: “That was the toughest game we’ve played this year. They’d obviously prepared very well for us and pushed us all the way to the end. It was tough.”