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Chiltern Cheetahs 22-17 Kent Exiles


The Cheetahs secured the South East conference title with a hard fought victory over the Exiles, in a game in which the lead changed hands seven times, and doomed the Exiles to staying at home during the playoffs.


The game was won with 9 seconds to go after a series of Exile defensive mistakes allowed the Cheetahs to score on a 12 yard pass, after the Exiles had gone ahead with less than a minute to play on Gary Ead’s 20 yard field goal.

The game had started tentatively, the Cheetahs hard nosed running game was being halted by the hard hitting Exiles defence, led by Mark Vickers 16 tackles, who although allowing a few first downs did not break and allow the touchdown, whilst the Cheetahs own defence held the Exiles potent passing game in check with two interceptions.

The Exiles were unlucky not to break the deadlock early in the second quarter when Roy Hall latched onto the end of a 43 yard pass from Mat Duncan, which was duly followed up by Stewart Muir running in from the 7 yard line, only to see the touchdown disallowed for an illegal motion penalty, after which the Exiles failed to get back into the endzone.

The Cheetahs scored the only points of the half soon after, after making a short drive the Exiles Michael Turner intercepted the Cheetahs pass on the 1 yard line to give the Exiles possession, but a swarming rush by the Cheetahs saw Muir tackled in the endzone for a safety and a 2-0 lead as the half ended.

The action really kicked off in the second half, both teams had a couple of tentative drives before the Exiles finally found the scoring touch that had deserted them all game, when after a Hayden Webber interception Alex Campbell scored on a 12 yard pass from Duncan, Ead kicked the extra point and the Exiles led 7-2.

This kick started the Cheetahs offence who could see their unbeaten run coming to an end, and a good drive led to a 6 yard pass for the touchdown, and then also passing for the 2 point conversion gave the Cheetahs the lead 10-7.

The Exiles came straight back at the start of the fourth quarter, a good drive mixed up with great running from Muir, and catches from Grahame Warby and Martin Jefkins led to a 3 yard run for the score from Muir, which this time was to stand, Ead again was good with the point after and now the Exiles led 14-10.

Now really in a battle the Cheetahs showed great determination and courage to fight back once again, and scored on a 10 yard pass. Eric Williams blocked the point after attempt, and it was now 16-14 to the Cheetahs.

The Exiles fielded the kickoff with less than 4 minutes left in the game, and knew a good drive could finish the game off, again Muir was to lead the attack, punctuated by short passes from Duncan to his receiving core and strong running up the middle from Lee Nash the Exiles drove inside the Cheetahs 10 yard line. A penalty was again to prove costly as the Exiles were pushed back, but on third down Muir broke through only to be tackled despairingly by the Cheetahs on the 3 yard line. With less than a minute remaining Head Coach Phil Wood sent on Ead for the Field goal, and he gave the Exiles a 17-16 lead.

Then disaster struck the Exiles, and jubilation the Cheetahs, twice the Exiles had the Cheetahs on fourth down, but twice last ditch passes were completed to move the chains, the normally sure handed Exiles secondary dropped two interception chances, and a personal foul penalty gave the Cheetahs a huge first down inside the Exiles red zone from where they completed the heartbreak on a 12 yard touchdown pass, the 2 point attempt was no good, but the Cheetahs now led 22-17 with only 9 seconds remaining, and their was no way back for the Exiles.

"I really believe we deserved to win today, and we had the chances to do it" commented Exiles head coach Phil Wood, "I have to give credit to the Cheetahs though they played a hard game as usual, and came good, we wish them luck in the playoffs"

The Exiles now close the season with a football bonanza versus the Essex Spartans in a fortnight, full details can be found on the website


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