Monarchs pass test of belief

American football
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In a game which turned out to be a stern test of the team's character, the London Monarchs defeated the Barcelona Dragons 9-7 in a drama-filled contest on Saturday night, courtesy of Don Silvestri's 43-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining.

It was never a classic, but the manner of the victory suggests that, after an indifferent start, the Monarchs have now found the determination and self belief which may yet carry them to next month's championship game.

Already without their starting quarterback Stan White, who damaged a shoulder last week, the visitors lost his replacement, Preston Jones, who suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the second quarter. In came their third and final choice, Kerry Joseph, who had not played a down throughout the campaign, but he displayed poise and determination in leading his team to success.

The last few months have been difficult for Joseph. Allocated to the Monarchs by the Cincinnati Bengals, he has had to wait patiently for his chance, while also enduring the disappointment of being released by the Bengals. After completing 19 of his 32 passes for 185 yards however, his future looks more promising.

Equally impressive was the former soccer player Clive Allen. Having spent the pre-game warm-ups searching for news from the FA Cup final, he kicked a pair of field goals to give the Monarchs a 6-0 lead.

It was also a massive day for their defence. The Dragons, led by their impressive quarterback Jon Kitna, had averaged almost 400 yards and 24 points per game prior to Saturday. The Monarchs restricted him to less than 300 yards and just one touchdown, a four-yard pass to Sheddrick Wilson late in the first half.

That gave the Dragons a slender one point lead, which lasted until the closing moments. On London's last, desperate drive, Joseph threw a 17-yard pass to Toderick Malone on fourth down, and Mike Titley somehow caught the ball between his knees to put Silvestri into field goal range.

The Scottish Claymores also left it late against the Amsterdam Admirals at Murrayfield yesterday. Yo Murphy's touchdown with less than two minutes remaining and Gary Parker's extra point made it 10-6 to guarantee the Claymores their first home victory of the season.