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Exiles Make the Playoffs For the First Time

Kent Exiles 28-23 Sussex Thunder

17-07-2003

The Kent Exiles secured their first ever playoff appearance, and moved to a 7-1 record, in this topsy turvy performance. The Exiles started the game brightly, holding the Thunder offence easily, and then powering the ball downfield to open the scoring on Stewart Muirs tenth touchdown of the season from seven yards out. Mat Tompsetts extra point was missed, and the Exiles led 6-0.

The Thunders next drive was snuffed out quickly as well, brothers Carl and Aaron Alexis making the tackles to give the offence the ball back straight away. This time the offence scored when quarterback Mat Duncan found Roy Hall on a 6 yard pass, Tompsett's extra point was good, and the score stood at 13-0.

By now the Exiles defence was dominating the Thunder, and holding them easily on every drive. The Exiles then once again powered down the field, and the drive ended when quarterback Duncan found Martin Jefkins on a five yard pass for the touchdown, Tompsett was good again and the Exiles had a comfortable 20-0 at half time.

The second half started dramatically, the Thunder held the Exiles offence and forced them to punt the ball away. Tompsett's kick was high and long, and the Thunders punt returner Dale Kirby could not hold onto the ball at his own goal line. The Exiles Michael Turner was on hand to recover the muffed return in the endzone, and the rookie scored his second special teams touchdown of the season, this time the Exiles elected to go for a 2 point conversion, and Duncan this time found Alan Hands in the corner of the endzone to convert, and give the Exiles a 28-0 lead.

The Exiles looked to have complete control of the game, but a lack of discipline allowed the Thunder to come back into the game, as Andy Smythe, Mike Ashby and J-P Flanigan scored three touchdowns late on to bring the score back to 28-23 as time expired.

"The win today was the most important thing" commented Exiles head coach Phil Wood after the game, "we had our destiny in our own hands, and we are now guaranteed our first ever play-off appearance, and who knows how far we can go now. I'm upset at our second half performance and I must take the blame for our lack of discipline, we can't afford that if we want to win going forward".

Exiles most valuable players on the day were Mat Duncan on Offence, Aaron Alexis on Defence and Michael Turner on Special Teams.

The Exiles now travel to Maidstone on Sunday to take on the Puma's in a local derby match, the Exiles were victorious at home 28-8 earlier in the season, and a win will push them further up the standings and on the road to playoffs in style.

 

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