Herts Cheetahs show teeth against Portsmouth Dreadnoughts to finally clinch a championship
- Credit: Archant
It was fourth time lucky for Hertfordshire Cheetahs as they finally won a major British Championship.
Their 24-7 win over close rivals Portsmouth Dreadnoughts at Leicester Falcons’ Leicester Road Stadium handed them the 2018 SFC Division Two Championship.
There were plenty of nerves at the start but an early touchdown for TJ Ajayi soon settled them and they pushed on in style.
Jordan Legge turned an interception from an increasingly-ragged Portsmouth offence into another touchdown and although Portsmouth pulled seven points back, the Cheetahs were resilient.
And with the St Albans-based side using the rush, they eventually punched through with running-back Adam Adeniji going over for the third TD.
Ben Brown made sure there would be no more comebacks with two interceptions on successive Portsmouth drives, taking his total in the game to three, and the icing on the cake was the final drive, quarterback Martin Brown connecting for his second TD this time to Rowan Huggins.
Head Coach Craig Barnes said the championship was a fitting reward for the hard work the team have put in over the year.
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He said: “Even on the Friday before the game, our offence were practicing the very play we shocked Portsmouth with on our first offensive series.
“Our defence were quite superb, Ben Brown in particular. It was great stuff to watch and I am immensely proud of my team.
“They have fully deserved this win and we will allow ourselves a short period of rejoicing before the preparation for our life in Division One begins.
“We will be ready for the undoubted challenge.”
Adeniji took the game’s most valuable player award and felt the Cheetahs had pulled off the perfect game.
He said: “It was very gratifying to see the work we have all put in pay off at exactly the right time. The offence was electric when it mattered and we drove the ball well for four quarters.
“While we may feel we should possibly have scored a few more, I can’t lie, I’m overwhelmingly happy with the end result.”
And offensive captain Ben Weeks, playing in his final game with the club, said: “This was a really special moment, one I’ll always remember.
“This team put in everything and I’m unbelievably proud of what we’ve been able to do.”