Pathfinders target play-offs after bruising derby win

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THE MK Pathfinders produced one of their best performance of the season to record a convincing win over local rivals Watford Cheetahs on Sunday.

It’s six wins, one draw and two defeats for the city team in the British American League Division Two East, and their 20-16 success against Watford keeps them on track to make the end of season play-offs for the first time.

Kent Exiles top the table from the Essex Spartans, but Pathfinders are now up to a season’s high of third place by completing the double over their rivals.

Defenses dominated the first half at the club’s Emerson Valley sports club home as neither side was able to move the ball consistently. Pathfiners defensive captain Matt Hannigan-Train put himself about with some committed tackling and Mike Goodman made some massive hits as the first quarter ended scoreless.

Pathfiners took the lead in the second as 30 yard pass completion from quarterback Mike Keogh to Jeremie Leonard put them in a scoring position before the pair combined again for an eight yard touchdown pass.

The score remained at 7-0 going into the second half when Watford started strongly and were threatening to score before being thwarted by a pass interception from home defensive back Chris Parr.

However, an excellent drive shortly after saw the visitors score a running touchdown of their own, and they took the lead with a successful two point conversion.

The game was very physical and players on both sides suffered some nasty injuries. Pathfinders lost Rich Smith for the rest of season with ruptured knee ligaments and two Watford players were also hospitalised with suspected fractures. In fact the game had to be suspended for 40 minutes until appropriate medical cover could return to the ground.

Pathfinders got immediately back on track courtesy of another Keogh-Leonard touchdown reception, this one for 21 yards to see the hosts back in the lead. And they looked to have put the game to bed with a spectacular 40 yard touchdown pass from Keogh to Neil Arthur shortly afterwards.

Watford responded in the fourth quarter with another rushing touchdown to make it 20-16, but despite their efforts that was all they could offer and Pathfinders held firm to seal the win that sees them hold on to third place in the table.

Their next match brings a short trip to Bedford to face The Blue Raiders – a side Pathfinders have never beaten. However, a victory there could see the city team seal their first ever post season play-off place.