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Exiles lose opening day thriller

Kent Exiles 12-13 Hampshire Thrashers

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15-04-2012

The Exiles traveled to Southampton to take on the Thrashers in their opening day game of the 2012 season, and despite taking on a team who were in the division above them last year, came away disappointed with a loss.

The game turned into a defensive encounter, with both teams effectively shutting down the other, and forcing turnovers. For the Exiles Dave Bryant and Richard Cooling both snagged interceptions, whilst Kerry Grey and Chris Harris both made sacks and key tackles on the defensive line. Two goal line stands, with key tackles from Chris Price, Joe Alexis and Adam Pearson, also kept the Kent team in the game.

The Exiles offence was inconsistent though, quarterback Zac Ritchie threw a couple of interceptions, but was also let down by several dropped passes from his receivers. The ever reliable Wesley Eversley scored the Exiles first points of the game though, on a 10 yard pass from Ritchie, following a scintillating 66 yard catch and run from Colin Chislett. The extra point was missed, and the exiles were back within a point after an early Thrashers touchdown pass from Brad Sawyers to Kyle Latore, and extra point from Rich Bloomer.

The Exiles then had their best spell of the game with a nice drive to the Thrashers 15 yard line, but a fumble turned the ball over. The Exiles defence then thought they had won the ball straight back on an interception from Ryan Wilson, but a costly penalty called the play back, and the Thrashers then went on a long drive which was finished by a Simon Peters run, and gave them a 13-6 lead.

The second half was all defence, until the final few minutes, when the Exiles mounted a final effort to win the game, Ritchie found Rob Welling and Eversley with passes, then Jon Miller caught the ball over the middle and juked into the endzone to bring the Exiles within a point, and a tough decision ensued for Coach Bainbridge, should the Exiles go for the point after to tie the game, or go for 2 points and try for the win?

With the special teams unit struggling all day, having missed the first point after and fumbling three kick returns, the choice wasn't that hard, and the Exiles went for the victory. Going to the reliable Eversley, who had had a fantastic game so far, the Exiles tried to run the ball in, but the Thrashers stepped up and stopped him short of the goal line. 

The Exiles had one chance left, but with the Thrashers recovering the onside kick the game was over, and the Exiles traveled home on the end of a tough loss.

Following the game Exiles Head Coach Tony Bainbridge said "We didn't really play that well today, but still nearly snatched it at the death. Our defence came together well though, and made some big plays. We've a lot to work on at midweek training, before traveling to Canterbury for the Kent derby next weekend" Full details can be found on www.kentexiles.co.uk

 

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