Rangers Get Season Back on Track with Win Over Oldest Rival

The Croydon Rangers knew the opening to their season was going to challenging with matches against last years two VicBowl contenders in first two rounds of the season. Following a disappointing home loss in the season opener, the Rangers turned their attention to the 2016 champion Monash Warriors, trying to avoid dropping to an 0-2 start.

In incredibly windy conditions, both teams looked to the run game to move the ball, with the wind wreaking havoc on the passing game of both teams early. The Warriors started stronger, with Australian RB Luke Jackson pounding the ball along the ground. The Warriors secured a converted touchdown on their opening drive, and signs looked ominous for the Rangers.

Early in the second quarter, the Rangers found themselves in scoring position, with a 1st and Goal from the 6 yard line and a strong wind at their backs. A sack and incomplete pass on 1st and 2nd down to QB Jamie Stafford made the task harder, and on 4th and Goal from the 12 yard line, Stafford found WR Trevor Osborne in the End Zone for his third touchdown reception of the opening two games. Quick thinking by kicker Sean Embry saw him gather the fumbled snap on the extra point conversion, and run it in for two, with score tied 8-8.

Embry would continue his excellent play, launching the first of his three consecutive kick-offs out the back of the End Zone (55 yards) for a touchback, giving the Rangers excellent field position for their defence to take a foothold. The Warriors continued to run the ball with control before the Rangers interior linemen, Jesse Peters and Pat Klisiewicz, gained control of the line and forced the Warriors to pass into the wind.

With the ball back in the possession of the Rangers, they ran the ball effectively with RB Jordan Beck and QB Stafford moving down field. An untimely Red Zone fumble by Beck gave the ball back to the Warriors. A fumbled snap, and a stuffed run on 2nd down say the Warriors creeping further back towards their own End Zone. On 4th and 5 on the 16 yard line, the Warriors had no choice but to punt into the wind. A big rush through the middle by LB Chevy Edwards disrupted the kick, and Edwards was able to block & gather the ball, and return the 8 yards for the go ahead touchdown. Embry kicked true and the Rangers lead 15-8 with 2 minutes left in the half.

The Warriors always have the ability to score quickly, and having to march the field, into the wind, in just 2 minutes do not intimidate them. Following two incomplete passes, they picked up 12 yards on a third pass to get the series moving, before rattling off a 45 yard run to set up 1st and Goal from the 6 yard line with 26 seconds left and 2 timeouts. The Rangers stuffed the run twice following time outs, but with 3rd and Goal from the 3 yard line, and no timeouts left, the Warriors ran hurry up football and caught the Rangers napping and punched in the score with 3 seconds left in the half. A completed pass to a falling receiver was marked just short of the goal line, allowing the Rangers to maintain a 15-14 advantage at the half.

The wind continued to pick up during the half time break, making scoring even more difficult for the teams. The Rangers started with the wind in the third quarter and field position became the key. On the Rangers first drive of the half, a pair of sacks to Stafford and penalties had the Rangers looking at 4th and 32 from their own 5 yard line. Punter Simeon Barut then let launch one of the most almighty of punts, and with a favourable bounce, rolled the 85 yards into the opposite end zone for a touchback and the Rangers would hold field position for the rest of the day.

The second half was dominated by the defences, with both teams picking up just the three first downs, with Warriors being held to 55 yards from scrimmage, Rangers just 29 yards. At the end of the match, the scores remained the same as they were at half time, and the Rangers picked up their first win for the season.

The Rangers will travel to Geelong to take on the Geelong Buccaneers next Saturday.

Looking for more photos?

Check out Barend’s amazing shots from the game!


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