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Over 500 Yards on the Ground and in the Air Gives the Win!

Kent Exiles 47-29 Sussex Thunder


After the Juniors match up it was time for the senior match to take place, even at this early stage of the season it was a game both teams knew they had to win to keep up with the table topping Cambridgeshire Cats. The Exiles took the opening kick-off and drove deep into Thunder territory, but were unable to score once near the endzone, and the Thunder took over deep in their own half. The Exiles defence was slow to react, and some good running by Andy Smythe carried the Thunder downfield from where quarterback Paul Robinson found Mike Ashby with a 10 yard pass for the first score of the game. Robinson then converted the point after attempt himself to give the Thunder an early 7-0 lead. The Exiles hit back immediately though, on the very next drive quarterback Matt Duncan found Roy Hall on a 67 yard pass play, the speedy wideout broke a couple of tackles and earned the Exiles 6 points. Mat Tompsett's extra point was wide of the posts, and the Thunder had a 7-6 lead.

The Exiles defence then held the Thunder and got the ball back for the Offence, who immediately began driving downfield again. Alan Hands had his first carry of the game, and racked up seven yards allowing him to hit a milestone in his career, passing 2,000 yards rushing for the club. Alan is the first person to do this in an Exiles uniform. The drive was nicely finished off by Stewart Muir with a 10 yard run for the touchdown, this time Mat Tompsetts extra point was good, and the Exiles led 13-7.

The Exiles defence then looked as though they would hold the Thunder again, but on third and long Robinson hit Ashby for their second score of the day, this time from 45 yards out, Robinson again converted the point after and the Thunder led 14-13.

Once again the game swung the other way on the very next drive, after a few short gains Exiles quarterback Duncan went back to receiver Hall for their second touchdown of the day, this time from 68 yards out, Tompsetts extra point was wide again, leaving the score 19-14 in favour of the Exiles. The half was rounded out with another score, Sussex coming back into it again after a short drive, this time Robinson hit Will Graystone for a 25 yard touchdown pass, and then found Warren Smart for the 2 point attempt, and the Thunder led 22-19 going in at the half. The Exiles kicked off to the Thunder to start the second half, much like the first half it looked as though the Exiles defence was asleep on the first drive as the game swung in the Thunders favour following a Smythe 47 yard run for the touchdown, Robinson again hit the extra point and the Thunder now had a 10 point lead, 29-19.

Once again the Exiles dug in hard, and following Roy Halls 60 yard kick return the offence took to the field and drove straight in for the touchdown, Alan Hands capping his momentous day on a 2 yard run. The Exiles then opted for the 2 point conversion, which Stewart Muir duly converted. Muir finished the day with 180 yards rushing, as well as the touchdown earlier in the game.

Finally on the next drive the Exiles defence kicked into gear, a hard hit by safety Mark Evans forced an incomplete pass, and then rookie defensive tackle Stu Page forced the Thunder running back to fumble, and recovered it himself, giving possession back to the Exiles.

This was the break the Exiles had been looking for, their offence was in dominant form and felt they could score on every drive, and they duly obliged with Duncan finding Hall for his third touchdown of the day, this time from 18
yards out. Hall was to finish the game with 161 yards receiving, as well as his three touchdowns. Mat Tompsett slotted the extra point, and the Exiles now led 34-29.

Buoyed by their last stand the Exiles defence was now well into their game, and the Thunder were finding it difficult to move the ball, a short drive ending in a punt, and the Exiles took over again on their own 20 yard line. Muir was now running the ball well behind fantastic Offensive line blocking, and the chains moved on virtually every play, the drive finished when Duncan threw for his fourth touchdown of the day, Martin Jefkins making the reception from 21 yards out. Tompsett's extra point was blocked, but the Exiles now had a 40-29 lead.

The Thunder looked to get straight back in the game, with the Exiles defensive line now snuffing out the running game they had to go to the air, but the Exiles read the play beautifully and Mat Tompsett made the interception to once again turn the ball over.

With only five minutes left in the game the Exiles started on a drive to kill the game once and for all, Duncan scrambled for a first down, and then Lee Nash pounded forward for another, Kieron Hyams then came up with a big catch on third down for yet another, and the Exiles were in scoring range again. Lee Nash pounded the ball in from 3 yards out, Tompsett kicked the extra point, and with only 1.28 left in the game the Exiles had an unassailable 47-29 scoreline, which was to remain the final score.

"I'm very proud of the team today" commented Exiles Head Coach Phil Wood, "in the past this team would have buckled and lost the game in the second half, for the second week in a row we have now overturned a second half deficit and gone on to win the game. The offence was outstanding today, we racked up over 500 yards in all, and Stewart Muir and Roy Hall both had outstanding individual games, Matt Duncan led them well, he always knew what needed to be done, and kept several drives alive with his canny play. I'm also very pleased for Alan Hands who passed a tremendous milestone for the club today." The Exiles now face the Chiltern Cheetahs at home this coming Sunday before a two week break, kick-off is at 2.30pm at their Hoblinwell Park home. The Exiles can be contacted through their website


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