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Kent Ground Out a Victory

Sussex Thunder 14-22 Kent Exiles


The Exiles finished their season with a great victory on the road against the Sussex Thunder. The win will lift the Exiles above the Thunder in the final standings, as long as they lose their final games against the Farnham Knights and Ipswich Cardinals, as the form book suggests they should.

The first quarter was a tense affair, both teams making good yardage but then making mistakes, so the scoreboard remained at 0-0.

The second quarter saw more headway made, and it was the Thunder with the first opportunity to score after a drive saw them falter near the redzone. Gareth Evans came on to try the field goal, but Aaron Alexis scythed through the line and laid out perfectly to block the kick.

The Exiles offence then marched downfield, Stewart Muir and Michael Omeru making gains before Paul Crawford ripped off a 32 yard burst which looked to open the Exiles account, but an inadvertant foot on the sideline saw the ball spotted at the 2 yard line. The Thunder then made a stand to see the ball turned over on downs.

The Exiles defence stood firm though, and forced the mistake as Steve Collison intercepted the ball. This time the Exiles were not denied, and Crawford took the ball in from 10 yards out behind a devastating block from wideout Martin Jefkins. Sean Starwind kicked the extra point, and the Exiles held a 7-0 advantage at half time.

Paul Crawford had an amazing
day with three touchdowns

The third quarter saw much of the same, the Exiles defence keeping the Thunder at bay, whilst the Exiles ground game paid huge dividends. Crawford soon scored his second of the day from 9 yards out, with Starwind again kicking the point after to give a 14-0 lead.

Another great stand by the defence saw the Thunder struggling again on their next drive, and forcing the punt. But a wayward snap saw the ball sail over punter Chris Percival's head, with the Exiles defence giving chase the hapless punter had no choice but to kick the ball out of his own endzone to hand the Exiles a safety, Dave 'Rocko' Maisey being credited as he was closest to the tackle.

That play signalled the end of the third quarter, and on the wrong end of a 16-0 scoreline the Thunder opted to try the onside kick, and to great effect. Evan's kick popped up just at the right time hitting an Exile, and the Thunder recovered. A few plays later it really paid off, as Eber Kington ran in from 9 yards out. Lance Nutley ran in the 2 point conversion, and the Thunder were right back in it.

That man Crawford was soon in the endzone again though, as the Thunder defence seemed unable to stop the Exiles running game. This time he scored from 6 yards out, and in doing so earned himself a BAFL Player of the Week nomination, as well as making the score 22-8.

As is traditional in Exiles vs Thunder games though, it was not to be an easy finish. The Thunder marched downfield and scored again on a 22 yard pass from Paul Robinson to Chris Jones, this time the 2 point conversion failed, and it was 22-14.

The Exiles then ate up the clock driving downfield before a dubious fumble call by the officials gave the Thunder one last chance. But with less than a minute on the clock the Exiles defence held firm, and sealed the deserved victory.

Following the game Exiles Head Coach Craig Ramsay commented, "that was probably our best performance of the season, everything gelled together and we made very few mistakes. It was a dissapointing season overall, but we will be bouyed by this performance during the off-season, as we know what we are capable of doing".

The Exiles will now lick their wounds until pre-season training starts up once again, as usual full details of the club can be found at

Selected Game Statistics

Damian Marshall - 2 of 6 for 28 yards
Antony Bainbridge - 1 of 7 for 24 yards, 1 int

Paul Crawford - 19 for 116 yards, 3 TD's
Stewart Muir - 13 for 43 yards
Antony Bainbridge - 9 for 36 yards
Michael Omeru - 7 for 22 yards

Darren Durup - 1 for 24 yards
Sean Starwind - 1 for 16 yards
Martin Jefkins - 1 for 12 yards

Aaron Alexis - 8 tackles, 1 sack (4 yards), 2 Pass Defence, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked Field Goal, 1 int (2 yards)
Paul Samartin - 8 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Steve Collison - 7 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 int (2 yards)
Mark Evans - 6 tackles, 3 pass defence
Kerry Grey - 4 tackles, 1 pass defence
Dave 'Rocko' Maisey - 2 tackles, 1 sack (10 yards), 1 fumble recovery, 1 safety


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