THE London Warriors laid down the gauntlet by annihilating the Berkshire Renegades in their first game of the 2014 season with two touchdowns apiece from Dwayne Watson and Phil Newport. Having won their first Britbowl last year and remained undefeated for two regular seasons, the Warriors, who play at Streatham-Croydon RFC, are beginning to dominate British American football. It was unsurprising, therefore, that they were so unremitting in the punishment they doled out to the Renegades in their first opportunity to exert their supremacy this campaign. Berkshire found possession retention nearly impossible as the Warriors ran rampant from the first whistle to the last, ceding neither a point nor a first down in a complete shutout. The home side's defence exerted pressure straightaway. After back-to-back sacks on 2nd and 3rd down, Berkshire's special teams fumbled a snap behind their end zone for a safety. The tone was set. In London's first offensive play, quarterback Nick Jacquet, in for Britbowl hero Jerome Allen, handed off to William Nchanjala, who exploited a huge hole - taking it 45 yards. They failed to capitalise in the redzone, however, and were forced into a turnover on downs after brazenly going for a 4th and 10. Nevertheless, Warriors had possession back shortly. Following an athletic interception by Jermaine Black-Marston, Jacquet hurled a colossal 30-yard lob to wide-out Taylor Burke, who stayed just in-bounds for a touchdown. Jacquet continued to repay the faith showed in him by head coach Tony Allen with a 70-yard read option play, in which he nearly took it all the way from his own 20-yard line. Jerome Allen came in before half time, though, and instantly made an impact by making it a two-possession ball game: A pinpoint pass to the right touchline found wide-receiver Phil Newport, who cannily shimmied past two lines of defence before squirming into the corner for the score. Newport found space again early in the third – Allen exploited the Renegades' lacklustre secondary coverage to find him wide-open for touchdown number three. Jacquet then came back in and threw a bullet pass straight down the middle to tight-end Robert Gogerly for a forth touchdown. The game was something of a practice session for the Warriors offense and late on they switched to a more ground-focused attack. Running back Dwayne Watson became more explosive with every carry and, late in the third, blasted through three challenges to make it 36-0. Watson breached the end zone again moments later, punching in from a hand off on Berkshire's 10. Wide receiver Joshua Young-Hastings snatched the two-point conversion to complete the rout. Jerome Allen was reserved despite the scale of the win: "It was alright," he reasoned. "We started slow but thought we would because we've recruited basically a whole new team this year. It will take a while for them to get used to our system." Following the match, Warriors head coach Tony Allen insists the best is yet to come. Despite opening their schedule with a convincing victory, Allen is conscious of complacency in a squad that saw huge transition this off-season. "A win's a win but there were a lot of mistakes today," he said. "That's just rust but we've got a really young squad now. After the championship last year, we lost about 18 starters. We've got some really great athletes but they're just not used to playing at this level." He added: "We're rebuilding again but we're on track – it depends how quickly our new talent develops. In some areas we have lots of talent but not much experience." For a team in transition, they certainly put up a lot of points. Youngsters Taylor Burke, Phil Newport and Dwayne Watson all scored impressive touchdowns and Allen was full of praise for his fleet of promising starlets. Of Newport and Burke, Allen commented: "They didn't get much time last year but they're taking on the pressure of being starters. We want to bring players through the youth system. They need to develop." In particular, Allen praised Watson's resilience and versatility: "Dwayne's been with us for two years and is from a programme where the offensive set-up wasn't as sophisticated," he claimed. "He's a hard runner and physical – that's what we want from our running backs." On starting Nick Jacquet over Jerome Allen, the coach said: "Allen is still number one but we want to give Nick more playing time and let him manage and drive the offense within our system. "Jerome is our starter but we want to put Nick in in positions where he's under pressure – not just where we're 30 up already - so you'll see him starting more this year." Asked whether motivation was an issue in games where the Warriors win so convincingly, Allen conceded it was "very difficult". He said: "One of our strengths last year was maintaining focus – if you're stronger than your opponent, and they're banged up, there's a tendency for talent to drop to the level everyone else is playing at. "We've got to maintain concentration and focus then go out and execute."
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