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Scorcher sees Exiles Get Singed

Kent Exiles 12-27 Bristol Aztecs


On what was a day that will be remembered for the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the UK, the Exiles were writing their own records by making their first ever playoff appearance, making the trip up the M4 to Bristol to face the Aztecs.

With starting quarterback Matt Duncan suffering a torn ACL in the lead up to the game, the Exiles looked towards Simon Mackerill to lead them in their biggest ever game, but despite an admirable performance the team came up short against the experienced Aztecs.

The Aztecs took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter when star running back Kenny Saro burst through the Exiles defence to score on a 72 yard run, Saro proved to be the difference between the teams as he racked up 3 touchdowns on the day.

The Exiles struck back on the very next drive though, some fine running from veteran Alan Hands put the Exiles into Aztecs territory, from where Mackerill found Martin Jefkins from 26 yards out, the receiver making the grab at the back of the endzone for the Exiles first playoff points, and Mackerills first touchdown pass. Mat Tompsett's extra point was missed, and the score stood at 7-6.

The Aztecs hit back in the second quarter, Saro again breaking free on a long run this time from 64 yards out. Aaron Alexis, who also recorded a club record 26 tackles, blocked the extra point and the score stood at 13-6.

The remainder of the half was a defensive affair, with both teams bending a little but not breaking, and the half ended with the Aztecs looking for the endzone but Mark Evans and Mike Turner both broke up the Aztecs passes and the halftime score stood at 13-6.

Defence was on top again in the early part of the second half, but the game swung in the Aztecs favour after a late hit left Exiles quarterback Mackerill limping from the game. Third string Quarterback Graham Deacon took to the field, but with no preparation time he could not engineer a drive. Mat Tompsett came on to punt, but a high snap meant that the Aztecs took over in Exiles territory. The defence held for two plays before Aztecs quarterback Ashley Richer lofted a deep pass to the sideline where Jon Hartley made the catch and scored on a 31 yard completion, it was to be their only completion on the day, but a costly one for the Exiles as after the extra point the Aztecs led 20-6.

With their offence struggling to come to terms with losing two Quarterbacks in one week, the Exiles found it hard to move the ball, and with the Aztecs eating up the clock with their power running game the Exiles defence began to tire under the relentless sun, and allowed the Aztecs a final score, Saro completing his hat trick this time from 4 yards out, the extra point was good and the Aztecs led 27-6.

The Exiles mustered the resilience to mount another drive on their next possession, Stewart Muir carried the load and eventually rounded off the drive on a 28 yard touchdown run, it capped another fine day for the 1,000 yard rusher as he finished with 114 yards on the ground, and bought the Exiles hope at 27-12.

The Aztecs used their experience to control the ball for the remainder of the game, not giving the Exiles any chance to come back, and rounded the game out 27-12 winners.

"This season we have turned around a perennial loser into a playoff team and we have to be very proud of that", commented Exiles head coach Phil Wood, "It doesn't make it any easier losing today though, but we'll use this to make the team stronger for next season, the players have now all seen what it will take to make the next step, and we are determined to go further next year. We wish the Aztecs well in the semi finals, they will be a tough unit to beat for any team, and I won't be surprised to see them playing in Sheffield at the end of the month".

The Exiles are already building for next season, and the club can be contacted via their website  New players and coaches especially are needed, as well as anybody interested in helping to run the club.


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