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Exiles Opening Shoot-out Favours Cats

Kent Exiles 26 - Cambridgeshire Cats 39


The Royal Mail sponsored Kent Exiles kicked off their 2003 campaign versus the Cats at Hoblinwell Park on Sunday, and despite a spirited and much improved performance came away losing to a strong Cats side.


The Cats scored on their first possession of the game with a 1yd run by Ken 'K-Train' Sweeny, the first of three he was to score during the game, Brian Jelly's extra point was no good, and the Cats had an early 6-0 lead.

Exiles quarterback Matt Duncan then led his team downfield on the next possession to tie the scoring, runs of 19yds by Duncan and 18yds by Stewart Muir setting up Martin Jefkins for a 4 yard catch in the endzone from a Duncan pass, Mat Tompsetts extra point was blocked and the score was tied at 6 all.

The second quarter started well for the Exiles as well, ex-Winchester Rifle Paul Taylor-Holland stripped the ball from the Cats running back, and rookie Stuart Page recovered the loose ball to give the Exiles possession. After a short drive Stewart Muir punched the ball in from 9 yards out, and Mat Tompsett's extra point was good, to give the Exiles a 13-6 lead.

Mark Evans then kicked off to Cats return man Michael Bey, who fielded the ball on his own 2 yard line, the Exiles coverage was brilliant though, Ian Rumsey forced Bey to turn into Michael Turner, who forced the fumble, and then scooped it up and ran the 6 yards to the endzone untouched for the touchdown, it was the second play in Turners career having joined as one of the clubs 16 rookies this season, several of whom made large contributions throughout the game. Mat Tompsett again slotted home the extra point, and the Exiles had a 20-6 lead.

The Cats then took possession, despite fumbling the kick return again, and drove downfield well behind a mixed run and pass attack, before Sweeny scored his second touchdown of the day from 8 yards out. Brian Jelly slotted the extra point this time, and the score was 20-13 to the Exiles going in at half time.

The Cats came out strong to start the second half, again mixing their attack well, and a good drive culminated in a 19yard pass from Nick Tilbury to Jonathan Smith, Jelly's extra point was blocked by Exiles linebacker Aaron Alexis, who finished the day with 21 tackles, and the score stood at 20-19.

The Exiles then took over again determined to extend their lead, and did so behind strong running from Muir and Alan Hands, but it was wideout Jefkins who scored on a 3 yard pass from Duncan, their second of the day, for the Exiles to take a 26-19 lead after Tompsett's extra point was blocked.

The Exiles defence was finding it hard to read the Cats offence which mixed it's plays well, and on their next drive the Cats scored again, this time it was Steve Peck who hauled in the Tilbury pass from 4 yards out. The Cats elected to go for the lead, and attempted a 2 point conversion, but the Exiles defence held and at the end of the 3rd quarter the Exiles still led 26-25.

The Cats dug in deep in the fourth period, their offence still performing well, with the defence stepping up and holding the Exiles scoreless, Sweeny's 4 yard run and a Dave Lemon 1 yard blast with Jelly converting both extra points sealed the game for the Cats with a final scoreline of 39-26

Exiles MVP's on the day were Martin Jefkins on offence, Paul Taylor-Holland on defence and rookie Mike Turner on Special Teams.

Exiles head coach Phil Wood was in a pensive mood following the game "it was a tough loss today, we performed admirably for 3 quarters and let ourselves down in the fourth, we could have upset a very good team today. We'll learn from this though, and look to rectify our mistakes versus Nene Valley next week."

The Exiles now travel to Kettering to take on the Nene Valley Hybrids, before returning home to face the Sussex Thunder on the 10th May, kick-off at 2.30pm. The Exiles can be contacted by calling Martin on 07944 730634, or Dave on 01689 859356 or via the club website


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