A depleted Thrasher squad travelled to South Wales to face the Warriors a team that became the Hampshire side’s biggest rivalry during their early years. The conditions were anything but ideal for the Thrashers with the recent poor weather softening up the pitch and providing a completely different surface than the 3G they have been accustomed to over the past 4 months.
Seemingly unaffected the defence were called in to action first after the Warriors won the coin toss and received the opening kick off. They immediately held them to a 3 and out, forcing the punt after driving South Wales back 3 yards. Starting at their 34 yard line Brad Sawyers marched his offence in to the Warrior’s redzone on a 9 play drive. Facing a fourth down Hampshire elected for a field goal, however, an errant snap behind holder Paul Brady could not be controlled and kicker Dom Williams attempt to convert a ball and left hand was driven in to the back of the Hampshire offensive line.
Aided by an offside penalty the Warriors fared a little better on their following possession but could only amass 5 yards on a 7 play drive and were forced to punt from their 42 yard line. The ball was held by the wind giving possession to the Thrashers at their own 35 yard line. This time the Thrashers took only 4 plays to remedy the failings on their first drive and scored off a run from Joe Kennard. Again an errant snap forced Brady to improvise on the PAT attempt but his pass to linebacker James ’Tetley’ Tildsley was short of the endzone giving the Thrashers a first quarter lead of 6-0.
A good return by the Warriors set their offence up from their 40 yard line and with the wind behind him Warriors quarterback Gareth Thomas quickly moved his offence downfield for the score. A miss-judged angle from rookie safety Greg Womble left receiver Spencer Cutlan to collect the pass uncontested and cover the remaining few yards for the touchdown. The extra point was successful to turn the lead in South Wales’ favour 6-7.
A strong return by Josh Amis set Hampshire up from their own 43 but a promising drive was ended after 2 plays when a Kennard fumble was recovered by South Wales. The Hampshire defence held the Warriors and forced the punt. However, the Thrashers suffered the same fate turning the ball over at the Warrior’s 27 yard line after another fumble.
Starting at his own 41 Thomas took just 5 plays to punish the Hampshire side for their missed opportunity when he found receiver Tom Wilson for their second score. The PAT conversion was good and extended the South Wales lead to 6-14.
A good return by Amis was negated by a holding call pinning the Thrashers back to their own 10 yard line. With time running out in the half Sawyers took his offence on a 9 play drive which stalled at the South Wales 41 yard line forcing a Hampshire punt. Looking to extend their lead the Warriors covered the field quickly but the half ended with the Warriors 25 yards short of the score.
After the break Hampshire took the opening kick off and third year player, Josh Amis cut straight through the Warrior pursuit en route to an 88 yard touchdown. Electing to go for 2 points to tie the score the Thrashers were held short and the third quarter margin stood at 12-14.
The reprieve was short lived with Thomas responding quickly leading his offence on a 6 play drive culminating in a pass to Wilson in the right corner of the endzone. The perfectly weighted throw beating the coverage. Cutlan continued his perfect PAT streak and extended the South Wales lead to 12-21.
The Thrashers could not respond and were forced to a 3 and out aided by a false start penalty. The Warriors had adapted to the Thrasher’s offence from the first half and were continuing to overrun the Hampshire blocking to harass Sawyers or drop the ball carrier in the backfield.
Hampshire seemed to get a small reprieve when the Warriors fumbled on second down but it was more of the same as the South Wales defence continued to force the Thrasher offence backwards and force another 3 and out.
Seemingly now coasting against a tired defensive line forced to play both ways, the Warriors marched down the field and running back Martin Tranter capped the drive with a 10 yard rushing touchdown. Cutlan added his fourth PAT to increase the Warriors’ lead to 12-28.
Now trailing by 2 scores the Hampshire offence looked to try and respond quickly but the unabated pass rush from the Warriors brought up another punt after only 4 plays. Thomas put the game out of reach after only 6 plays finding his brother Tim Thomas for a 15 yard score. Tildsley blocked the PAT attempt and this was recovered by Hampshire in their own endzone to limit the lead to 12-34.
With the Hampshire offence continuing to struggle both teams traded punts before offensive coordinator, Sumon Hoque, unshackled his offence giving his young quarterback freedom to run a no huddle attack. Sawyers responded quickly moving the unit downfield behind some accurate passing to veteran receivers Dave Fredericks and Paul ’Toast’ Brady to pick up key first downs married with some strong running by Tom Borsay. The drive ended at the Warriors’ 7 yard line when Borsay was dropped short of the marker on 4th down.
The Thrasher defence held the Warriors offence in check forcing a punt from inside their redzone. Starting at the Warriors 23 yard line Sawyers quickly moved his offence to the goal line and 3 plays in to the drive scored on a yard run. The two point conversion was not successful and after time expired with the Warriors in possession the final score stood at 18-34.