Agony for Gloucester Gladiators in American football play-off defeat to BNU Bucaneers
Gloucester Gladiators 25
BNU Bucaneers 28
The Gladiators adventures in the play-offs came to an end at the Folley when they beaten by the Buccaneers 28 - 25.
This was a rip-roaring encounter with both teams giving everything and taking no prisoners.
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The prize for the victors was a place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Trophy.
When the dust had settled, the Buccaneers edged out the Gladiators by just three points.
At the end of the day, the clock was the telling factor in BNU getting the result.
In the first quarter, the Gladiators went into the lead with the well-tried combination of number 18 quarterback Rowe finding number 81 Rhodri Williams who romped home for a touchdown.
The extra point was no good. Even though good yardage was gained by number 16 Ryan Macdonald, no further score was produced.
With the first quarter coming to an end, the Buccaneers took over possession and on their first play the Gladiators defence were caught napping and BNU skipped in for a touchdown with the two extra point conversion good, giving them the advantage by 8 - 6.
An onside kick, the first of many for the Buccaneers was successful and allowed them to gain possession of the football.
What followed was the Gladiators brightest period of the whole game.
A concentrated drive from their own five-yard line resulting in number 18 quarterback Rowe finding number 80 Christian Davies in the Bucs endzone for a touchdown.
Once again the extra point attempt was no good, but nevertheless the Gladiators were back in front by 12-8.
Within minutes, Rowe struck again with the play of the day when he fired a 35-yard pass to Christian Davies in the Bucs endzone.
The extra point conversion was good - putting the Gladiators in front by 19-8 at the half time whistle.
None of the 80-odd spectators could envisage what was about to unfold after the break.
Two quick fire touchdowns by the Buccaneers completely mesmerised a shell-shocked Gladiator side.
This change of fortune put the visitors ahead by 22-19 and from being almost down and out the Bucs were now in the driving seat.
Early in the fourth quarter BNU scored a further touchdown to pile misery on the now, misfiring Gladiators, to be almost over the finish line, by 28-19.
It would need a miracle for the Gladiators to pull this one out of the fire – and they very nearly did.
Fifteen yards from their line, the Buccaneers celebrating the 'win' on the sidelines were rocked back on their heels.
Never-say-die Gladiator number five Ned Baker mugged the visitors quarterback, stripping the ball and running in for a touchdown.
With the two point conversion failing and less than one minute to go, the clock was the telling factor.
Time and luck ran out for the home side with the Buccaneers scraping over the line by 28-25.
Head Coach Steve Suddell said: "It was a good game and so tense. The Glads played their hearts out but it was just not to be this year.
"Another game that we should have won but lost by just three points.
"In fact this season we have lost three games for a total points difference of 15, which is a superb performance.
"We've learnt some good lessons which we will convert into positive learning points and come back even stronger next campaign.
"We've done a good job in 2012/2013 and made history for the club, that's got to be good in any man's books."