The Cambridge Pythons are just one win away from securing the Conference ChampionshipCambridge Pythons

Cambridge Pythons: 20

Royal Holloway Bears: 0

Division One South East Conference

The Cambridge University Pythons American Football Club returned to winning ways this past Sunday with a 20–0 win over the Royal Holloway University Bears. The win pushed the Pythons back to the top of the Division One South East Conference and guaranteed them entrance into the Division One National Playoffs to compete for the Division One National Championship.

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, the Pythons were entering their final match of the season having to win to avoid relegation from Division One. Win they did, and under the guidance of new Head Coach Gary Villiers and new Offensive Coordinate Dan Harriss, the Pythons entered the Christmas break unbeaten and top of the league. In the new year, the Pythons followed this up with a 6–0 win over the Immoral Immortals and a 9–6 win over the University of East Anglia Pirates to hold their place at the top.

The Royal Holloway Bears couldn't cope with the Pythons, who scored all of their points in the first two quartersCambridge Pythons

In their next fixture the Pythons suffered their first defeat of the season away to an impressive second-place Imperial Immortals side, who would then hold the top spot in the conference for a week before the Pythons regained it. The defeat to the Immortals certainly dented the usual confidence of the Pythons team going into the game against the Bears, not helped by the absence of club president Ned Bransden and interception machine Ethan Cox, as well as the news that lineman Rob Brewster would be out for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

The Pythons would also line up with a new quarterback in Eli Calocane. Former quarterback Tom Carr shifted into the offensive line in what was a new-look Pythons offence. Carlos Val Mas shifted onto the defensive line, replacing Erik Aho who suffered a last-minute injury. Ollie Hayes gained his first start on defence as a middle linebacker in the absence of Ned Bransden and Ethan Brown for the first time joined Tom Carr, Harry Richer and Joe Moore to captain the Pythons.

The first quarter ended in stalemate. The Pythons’ defence seemed to have regained its confidence though, shutting out the Bears emphatically, with a highlight being Carlos Val Mas’s sacking of the Falcons’ quarterback for a nine-yard loss.

The second quarter saw the Pythons move up a gear in both defence and attack. Early in the second quarter, the Falcons’ quarterback threw an interception to Pythons cornerback Sam Comb, who returned the ball 69 yards up the field, only to be tackled half a yard before the end zone. On the very next play Pythons quarterback Eli Calocane waltzed the ball into the endzone to put the Pythons up 6–0.

Cambridge Pythons

Later in the second quarter, the Joe Moore show would take place with five Joe Moore runs ending in a touchdown and the Pythons going 12–0 up. The Bears began their next drive on their own 35-yard line, but just two plays later, Ollie Hayes would leap in the air to intercept the ball and return it 45 yards for a touchdown, wrong-footing several Bears players on the way. Then, a Bez Adeosun run helped the Pythons to another two points to take them into half-time with a 20–0 lead.

The Pythons entered half-time with the knowledge that their job was only half-done. The second half of the match passed by without too much fanfare. A Joe Meredith interception and several pass bat-downs by Oli Iyer aided a solid Pythons defensive effort that shut out the Bears for the afternoon. The game ended 20–0 and the Pythons regained their place at the top of the conference.

It may not have been their best performance of the season, but it was certainly a needed one after the previous week’s loss. The Pythons’ next game takes place on Sunday 26th February in Kent against the Kent University Falcons. A win will secure the conference championship for the Pythons and home advantage in the playoffs. Whatever happens in the rest of the season though, the Pythons will certainly look back at this season as a great success.

Cambridge Pythons: Carr (c), Richer (c), Moore (c), Brown (c), Choksey, Calocane, Rae, Iyer, Alloway, Adeosun, Knott, Val Mas, Amin Said, Haidar, Bennett, Dalton, Lorenz, Balletine, Chan, Cox, Venner, Liu, Comb, Muzani, Clarke, Suzuki, Meredith, Wei, Turner, Ting, Hayes