Ipswich Cardinals 21 - Norwich Devils 20

The Ipswich Cardinals bounced back from a disappointing loss to Cambridge last week, and in some style as they defeated the auld enemy from Norwich by the slimmest of margins!

A terrific display of grit and unity, sadly missing the previous week, proved this Suffolk side are, indeed capable of great things.

The Devils began well, with Quarterback Jeremy Mapolo orchestrating a drive that led to the huge defensive lineman Liam Lane crashing forward from close range for the opening touchdown.

Adam Jones, previously a big thorn in the Ipswich side, kicked the conversion, 0-7.

After a promising opening drive of their own, with Fab Ortiz at quarterback in the absence of the injured Matt Agate, the hosts were forced to punt.

Brad Ling is getting quite the reputation for his excellent punting skills, and his precision effort was stopped at the Devils 1 yard line. This would become a theme for the entire afternoon.

The Devils passing attack was now backed up and throwing from inside their own end zone, that pressure led to an interception by Ryan Caley who dashed the ball back for an Ipswich TD. Ling equalised seconds later, 7-7.

Norwich’s next scoring opportunity failed when Jones’ attempt at a 51 yard field goal fell short.

However, Coach Starlings side didn’t have to wait much longer to claim possession as the Cardinals fumbled the ball away. This time Lewis Truman capped the short drive with a TD run as the second quarter began. Jones added the extra, 7-14.

The Cardinals defense is designed to bend, rather than break, but the players do their fair share of breaking as well as the Devils injury count mounted. This is a solid group with no stand out star, meaning they play a gang oriented brand of football thats exciting to watch.

Into the two minute warning for the half and it looked vital the hosts drew level. A beautiful pass from Ortiz into the hands of Mitchell Melanaphy in the Devils end zone did just that, with Ling converting for a tied game at the interval, 14-14.

The second half began disastrously with a fumble on the very first Cardinals play, and just three plays later the big US running back Tim Johnson scored a third Norwich TD. Crucially however, Jones missed the extra point.

A theme developed for the rest of the match, as the Ipswich offence stuttered. Lings punting ensured the Devils were constantly beginning drives way back in their own half, and both defences forced turnovers. One of those, an interception by Ipswich linebacker Tyler Corn led to his sides third TD. Henri Clements, the bruising running back avoided tacklers and enjoyed some great blocking to level things at 20 apiece, then Ling converted the extra point to finally give his side their first lead of the game!

The fourth quarter was a nail biting affair as both sides gave it their all. Caley intercepted a pass from Mapolo, Daniel Hewitt intercepted a pass from Ortiz, there were fumble recoveries as momentum swung repeatedly. A second interception by Corn, from a pass by Chris Wilkinson this time, finally brought proceedings to an end, with Ortiz taking a knee to the sounds of gleeful Suffolk supporters cheers.

It was a hugely rewarding win for the Rushmere based side, particularly following the previous weeks capitulation, and one that will live long in the memories of those that attended.

Ian Girling

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A full gallery of photographs taken are provided here by Chewbroccoli Photography

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