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Essex Run the Clock Out to Stay on Top

Kent Exiles 12-21 Essex Spartans

16-06-2002

The Kent Exiles played their second game at home this season on Sunday, and once again came out close, but losing, on the back end of a 21-12 scoreline.

The Essex Spartans were the opponents, who came to the Exiles on the back of a 13-12 victory over the Cambridgeshire Cats the previous week. Both teams started well, with defence being the name of the game, as neither team was able to find the endzone in the first quarter, despite good drives by each team, the Exiles coming closest after driving to the Spartans 20yd line before coming up just short on fourth down.

At the start of the second quarter a broken play gave the Spartans the break they were looking for, after their wide receiver caught a deflected ball inside the Exiles 20yd line, from where they took four plays before hitting a 13yd pass for the touchdown, the extra point was missed, giving them a 6-0 lead, which stuck until halftime. The Exiles came out in the 3rd quarter determined to get back into the game, and after a great defensive stand the Spartans turned the ball over on downs, and the Exiles began to drive downfield, Alan Hands ripped off a 13 yd run, Kieron Hyams caught a 12 yd pass from Andy Mountain, who then found Martin Jefkins on the sideline for a 16 yd gain to give the Exiles the ball on the 5 yd line. A Spartans penalty then gave the Exiles the ball on the 2 yd line, from where Lee Nash blasted his way into the endzone to give the Exiles 6 points, and Lee his first touchdown for the Exiles. The snap on the extra point was high, forcing the 2 point attempt, but Kris Maciolek was just unable to hang onto the ball to leave the score tied at 6 all.

The Spartans then took the kick-off back over the half way line to shift momentum back to them, the Exiles defence looked to have stopped them after Gary Ead and Gary Mewse both pressured the QB into throwing the ball away, but on third down the Spartans again passed the ball, Exiles cornerback Neil Gunstone looked to have a chance on the interception, but his gamble backfired as the Spartans wide receiver caught the ball and jogged into the endzone for a 12-6 lead, they then hit the 2 point conversion and gave themselves a 14-6 lead at the start of the 4th quarter. For the second game in a row special teams then proved to be the difference for the Exiles, as their punt was blocked and recovered by the Spartans inside the 10 yard line, from where they ran in an 8 yard touchdown, and kicked the point after for a 21-6 lead, with only 4 minutes left in the game.

The Exiles then dug in again, determined not to be beaten easily, and on their first play after the kick-off Andy Mountain found Roy Hall on the fade pattern, who then outran the Spartans defence for a 70 yard touchdown, the 2 point attempt was again no good, leaving the score at 21-12.

The Exiles then attempted the onside kick in the hope they may be able to pull off the miraculous and score twice with only 3 minutes to go, but the Spartans recovered and were able to run the clock out for the win. The Exiles were crestfallen after the game, as they had had their chances to win the game, but had again come up short.

Head Coach Nick Cursley was reflective after the game, commenting "We had our chances, but again did not take them all. We have to forget this game now and concentrate all our efforts to this Sundays game versus the South Wales Warriors, we are a team who can win games, we just have to believe in ourselves."

As always the Exiles awarded their most valuable player awards after the game, Roy Hall scooped the special teams award after some great return yardage on punts especially, Carl Alexis was honoured on defence after plugging the middle of the line well all game and finishing with 3 tackles, he edged out Phil Wood, Gary Ead and Graham Deacon who had 7 tackles each, and rookie Steve Collison who again impressed with 4 tackles. The Offensive award was well won by Kieron Hyams who had a breakout game in his second season with the club, having previously caught one pass this season, Kieron stepped up to grab six for 30 yards, and gain a couple of key first downs. He was well supported on the offence by Andy Mountain who completed 14 passes for 184 yards, Roy Hall with 5 receptions for 120 yards, Martin Jefkins with 3 receptions for 34 yards and Alan Hands with 64 yards rushing.

 

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