BRISTOL Apache’s run in the British American Football Association Division Two Play-Offs has come to an end at the semi-final stage after being defeated 33-27 by the Berk- shire Renegades at Filton.

With only one loss between them in their 22 matches this season, this game had many supporters drooling in anticipation in what, on paper, had the signs of being a classic encounter.

The hype certainly lived up to its billing and those watching in Bristol never knew how the game was going to finish until the end of the fourth quarter.

Reaching the Conference Final would have resulted in automatic promotion to Division One for the Apache but, despite coming from be- hind, it was a late touchdown which denied their celebrations and ended the Bristol team’s season with their only loss of the year.

Bristol now have plenty of time to sit down and reflect on what turned out to be a frustrating semi-final and a missed opportunity with costly mistakes – a rarity this season – seeing them fall just short. The Renegades took a quick lead only for Bristol to hit back and take an 8-7 advantage. The Apache started to up the tempo but took a knock when the Berkshire side scored another touchdown to take a 14-8 lead into the half-time break.

Although behind, the Apache were confident of making the necessary changes to show why they were favourites to take the matchup, but another blow saw the Renegades extend their lead to 20-8 early in third quarter.

Any nerves from the Bris- tol team were soon extinguished as some terrific team work saw the Apache score two quick touchdowns to put them 24-20 up.

It was now looking like Bristol would be the ones making their way to Leeds for the final but two late touchdowns broke the hearts of the Apache players and saw the Renegades take a surprise win.

For Apache coach and player Jon Walters it was the end in more ways than one as he announced his retirement after the game and he will no doubt be sorely missed.

Bristol can certainly hold their heads high and feel proud of what they have achieved this season. They will be back even stronger next year.

For the Renegades they now face the tough task of defeating hot favourites the Wembley Stallions, who defeated the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts, 33-6, in the other semi, at the John Charles Sports Centre in Leeds with the winner being crowned this year’s Division Two champions.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.