Southern Football Conference 1 East

COLCHESTER Gladiators' winning form was halted after they lost 23-0 at the rejuvenated Wembley Stallions.

The Stallions showed how much they have improved under veteran coach Warren Smart since the 34-26 defeat to the Gladiators, in April.

The Gladiators meanwhile, have gone in the opposite direction, mainly due to the unprecedented rash of injuries including starting QB Rob Wickham. The injury jinx hit again at Wembley, with Adam Dickens and Sam Gennings sustaining possible season-ending injuries.

The Gladiators started with some confidence after a battling win against the East Kent Mavericks the previous week.

But the offence could not get going all day, picking up just five first downs and 100 yards in total.

An early pass completion from Jake Wickham to Gennings brought up an early first down but the drive could not be sustained and the Gladiators had to punt.

The Stallions moved the ball into field goal range and after Dave Kerr and Curtis Bourke combined to thwart a receiver on third down, the home side tried for a field goal but the 26-yard attempt was wide left.

Colchester's offence spluttered into the Wembley half but an unfortunate interception turned the ball over.

The Stallions took full advantage as the teams changed ends for the second quarter, running the ball in for a touchdown from five yards out.

The extra point was good to give them a 7-0 lead.

The Gladiators were forced to punt again but punter Aaron Martin was unable to kick the ball away after a wide snap, giving Wembley the ball on the Colchester 33.

They soon doubled their lead after an 18-yard run and PAT, to make the score 14-0.

The Stallions added a third touchdown before the end of the period, with a spectacular catch and run for 50 yards giving them a 20-0 half-time advantage.

The hosts took the ball to open the second half but a forced fumble by Calum Roberts and a fumble return by Dave Walton gave Colchester some hope but a sack of Wickham forced a punt.

The Stallions could only add a three-point field goal to their tally in the third quarter but with the Gladiators offence grinding to a halt, they never looked like losing their grip.

Kerr picked off a pass in the fourth period to halt one drive but the hosts returned the favour to keep the final quarter score-less, leaving the Stallions worthy winners.

The Gladiators are next in action when they host Kent Exiles on July 22 (kick-off 2.30pm).