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Exiles cruise past Cheetahs to 6-1, Guaranteeing Playoffs

Kent Exiles 49-8 Chiltern Cheetahs

25-06-2003

The Exiles cruised past the Cheetahs to go 6-1, and guarantee themselves their first winning season since 1998, behind a solid team performance which got better as the day went on.

The Exiles took an early 7-0 lead as they scored on their first possession when Stewart Muir ran the ball in from 9 yards out; Mat Tompsett kicked the point after. It was the start of a stellar performance by both as Muir was to finish the day with 139 yards rushing and 4 TD’s, whilst Tompsett earned himself a place in the Exiles record books by converting all 7 of his extra point attempts on the day, ironically beating the record set by his brother Ian in 1996.

The Cheetahs hit back in the 2nd Quarter when some broken coverage by the Exiles defence allowed Rob Suttling to hit Spencer Whybrow on a 32 yard touchdown, it was Suttlings first completion on the day but it put him over 4000 yards passing in a Cheetahs uniform, a milestone which the veteran celebrated in style by hitting Darren Shepsman on the next play for the 2 point conversion and an 8-6 Cheetahs lead.

The 8-6 scoreline was to stand until the second half when the Exiles started to turn the screw and dominate the game on both sides of the ball, a solid drive saw Muir score his second of the day this time from 6 yards out, Tompsett converted and the Exiles led 14-8, and were not about to look back.

After a solid defensive stand forced the Cheetahs to punt, Matt Duncan hit Kris Maciolek on a 21 yard reception which then allowed Muir to score his third from 5 yards out, Tompsett converted again and it was 21-8.

The Cheetahs next drive ended spectacularly when linebacker Aaron Alexis came on a blitz and blindsided Cheetahs quarterback Suttling forcing him to fumble the ball, Paul Taylor-Holland scooped up the loose pigskin and rumbled 28 yards before being tackled on the Cheetahs 3 yard line. This allowed Muir to round off his performance by scoring from 3 yards out this time, Tompsett of course converting again for the 28-8 lead.

The Exiles defence then stepped up once again on the next drive, the Cheetahs going back to the same play which they scored on earlier in the game found that Steve Collison was on hand this time to snag the interception, the second year defensive back then evaded what seemed like the entire Cheetahs team on his way to a 52 yard return for his first senior touchdown. Tompsett was good again and the score was 35-8.

The Cheetahs next drive ended in similar fashion, this time Tony Bainbridge made the pick giving the offence good field position. Matt Duncan found Graham Deacon for 17 yards down to the 3-yard line, from where veteran Exile Rob Williams scored for the second game in a row, Tompsett trotted onto the pitch and the score read 42-8.

The Cheetahs persisted with the Ariel attack, and their final drive saw Exile Steve Berry make his first pick of the year, a short return set up the offence again. The drive culminated in Martin Jefkins 25yard reception from Matt Duncan, capping a fine day for both players. Jefkins finished with 8 receptions for 144 yards and the touchdown, whilst Duncan had 188 yards in the air, and 77 on the ground. Tompsett was again good and the final score stood at 49-8.

"42 unanswered points in the second half" commented Exile head coach Phil Wood, "I can’t really say too much after that, except I wish we’d had the same level of performance in the first half! Today I saw what this team is capable of, this is the first time that we’ve had the entire team perform at it’s best."

"That was great" beamed Exiles coach Ted Smith, "I was really pleased for the Defence today who started making some huge plays all over the pitch, but the offence then showed it’s class by capitalising on all of them. We’ve still got 3 games to go of course and we need to make every one of them count if we are to make that playoff trip that has always eluded us in the past, we are not there yet".

The Exiles now have a week off to prepare for their final 3 games which will see If they can ensure a playoff place, their final home game is a tough match versus the Essex Spartans, followed by an away trip to the Sussex Thunder before the Maidstone Pumas face the Exiles again, this time on their home turf.

 

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