Cardiff Cobras are one win away from promotion to the Premiership after a 27-0 win over the Imperial Immortals at Llanrumney on Sunday.
After a comfortable victory over Cambridge in their first play-off game a week earlier, the Cobras stepped things up a gear to book their place in the BUCS Division 1A Southern Final.
They will head to Portsmouth to take on the unbeaten Destroyers next week knowing a victory would see them reach the top tier of British University American Football for the first time since it was split into multiple tiers in 2014. They would also earn the right to play for a national title against the Northern Champions at Sixways Stadium the following week.
A tough test was expected against an Imperial side who played in the Premiership last year and came on strong in the closing weeks of the regular season to win their division.
But after a slow start, the Cobras gradually got into their stride and broke the deadlock with a five yard touchdown run from Ross Ludlow just seconds before half-time.
After heading into the break on a high, the home side picked up where they left off with a composed drive down the field on their opening possession of the second half.
They marched down the field before Quarterback Max Milburn found Scott Higgins in the back corner of the end zone for the score.
An attempt to kick an extra point bizarrely turned into a two-point conversion as Jak Canham’s kick was blocked into the arms of an Imperial player before being fumbled to Cobras man Andy Keener in the end zone.
A big physical effort from the Cobras on both sides of the ball saw them gradually wear down their opponents during a dominant second half to wrap up the game as a contest.
With their defence consistently offering them the ball in good field position, rookie Ludlow powered in his second score early in the fourth quarter.
And when Liam Sharma hauled in an eye-catching touchdown grab after a 20-yard pass from Milburn it gave the Cobras the chance to experiment with a number of back-up players in the final minutes.
Wide receiver duo Sharma and Higgins both offered a deep threat throughout the game as Milburn completed a number of big plays to the pair, whilst Canham and Andy Keener also made some vital receptions.
That opened up the opportunity for running backs Ludlow and Carwyn Chamberlain to enjoy significant success on the ground as the Cobras offense put in arguably their most complete performance of the season.
Defensively, the Cobras were disciplined enough to stop Imperial’s triple option scheme with middle linebacker Tom Earl and defensive ends Will Rushen and Joe Dickerson in particular coming up with a number of big tackles.
Rookie cornerback Cameron Watson also starred with two athletic interceptions as the Cobras secured a shut-out victory.
They head into the biggest game in their recent history on a high and looking to keep their memorable season alive.