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Exiles Youth start in same vein as 2013!


Sunday 27th April saw the Kent Exiles Youth begin their 2014 season in earnest with a trip to Watford Cheetahs. Awaiting them were the hosts, the London Blitz, and the London Warriors.

In changeable conditions, the Exiles were drawn to play old rivals the Blitz first, and made the worst possible start, when on their very first play, the Exile offence coughed up a fumble which the Blitz defence scooped up and ran in to score. The PAT was converted, and in a flash the Exiles were 7-0 behind. The Kent side rallied however, and behind strong running by Sean Seeds, and some stout defence, soon chalked up a score of their own, from the aforementioned Seeds, however, they could not convert the PAT. The half ended with no further score, and the Exiles 7-6 down. The Blitz started the second half strongly, and soon extended their lead, but again Sean Seeds hit back. A feature of the game was the strong tackling and defensive play on both sides, and Exiles NT Luke Boxall epitomised this when he sacked the Blitz QB twice in a row midway through the half. The London Blitz again extended their lead, but with time pressing, Sean Seeds was again found by QB James Cook, and with the clock ticking down, the Exiles faced a two-point attempt for the match. The PAT team fought for their space, but Cook's pass was intercepted in the end zone, ending the match with the Blitz prevailing 19-18.

The disappointed Exiles had to lift themselves to face the hosts, Watford Cheetahs, and made a fast start on defence, Luke Boxall recovering a fumble in the end zone for the opening score. This was converted by wideout Conor Rumble. On the very next Cheetahs possession, the Exiles defence extended the lead when Gareth Norman intercepted the Cheetah QB and returned the ball to paydirt. Again, Conor Rumble added the extras. Watford's offence started to click into gear, and they reduced the arrears with a pass over the middle which beat the Exiles secondary, the WR hauling in a good catch and sprinting to the end zone. However, the Exiles, on what was to be their only offensive series of the half, again scored when Sean Seeds found space after some excellent Exiles blocking and rushed to the end zone. The final series of the half saw Watford again take to the air, but this time Gareth Norman was again lurking upfield, and snaffled another interception, returning the ball to the house.
The second half saw more good play from the Exiles, behind very strong running from Kent RB Regan Alexis, and strong blocking from his cousin, Theo Alexis. Between them they helped the Exiles move the ball upfield, before the ball was placed in the hands of Exile stalwart Olly Gadd, who made the corner for the TD. Possessions were exchanged as the Exiles gave the squad some valuable game-time, but they were not finished yet, and centre Jacques O'Dwyer took a great pass from James Cook into the end zone, the last points converted by rookie Harry Woodley. This ended the scoring with the Exiles running out winners 39-6.

The Kent side had a brief break, and then faced local rivals the London Warriors. Again the Exiles made a fast start, and the defensive set of Luke Boxall, Liam Riley, David Patterson, and Nathan Wilson, ably assisted by Jack Winstanley and hard-hitting Tom Lee, stopped the Warriors on their first series. The Exiles offence took over, and moved the ball steadily down the field, before Olly Gadd again scampered into the end zone. The extra point was not converted, but on the Warriors next possession, nose tackle Luke Boxall beat the centre, and trapped the QB in the end zone for an Exile safety. Possessions were exchanged, but with their last offensive possession of the half, Sean Seeds again took the ball, and weaved his way to score, the PAT converted by Conor Rumble. This ended the first half.
The Kent side opened the second half on offense, and wasted no time in scoring again, when Sean Seeds was found with a well-worked play, virtually on his own, and he out-ran the defence to score. Harry Woodley again scored the extra point. It was time for the Exiles defence to get in on the scoring act, and this time LB Nathan Wilson picked off a Warriors pass and returned it to score. Then, on the Warriors next possession, after a mix-up in the London backfield, he burst through to tackle the Warriors ball carrier in the end zone for another Exile safety. On the resulting Exile offensive series, QB James Cook again found Sean Seeds, and he incredibly stayed inbounds down the sideline, assisted by excellent blocking, to score yet again. The Exiles provided more squad game time, and a feature of the changes were how well the rookies slotted in. There was strong running from RB Euan Clark, some effective blocking from Alex Savine, and a couple of great receptions from Andrew Bews. All of this resulted in the Exiles setting up another TD run for the hard-working Olly Gadd, with the final PAT conversion from Conor Rumble. This closed the game, the Exiles victorious 44-0.

Exile Head Coach Julius Hobbs said afterwards, ' I was really pleased with the intensity that we showed all through the day. The players and coaches showed great application and concentration, and the Blitz game in particular showed Youth football of the very highest order. I'd like to thank my fellow coaches and all of the players for their effort and hard work, every single member of the team contributed to the success we had.'
He added, 'I'd also like to thank the people on our sideline who turned out to support the lads, it really makes a difference, and again, we were the best supported side on the field. I'd also like to thank the Blitz, the Cheetahs, and the Warriors for three great games, it's fantastic to see so many players enjoying this great sport.'
He went on, ' 2-1 was a good outcome for the day, although we had a shot to win the Blitz game, the Blitz played very well and losing was no disgrace. It has been pointed out that last season started very similarly, with the Exiles dropping the first game, but if anyone believes 2013 will be repeated they are very much mistaken. We will be affording all of our opponents the upmost respect, and there is an awful lot of hard work for us to do before the end of the season. We must not take anything, or anyone for granted, everyone in our conference will be dangerous, and we will have to be at the top of our game to beat them. We now have three weeks until we take the field at Colchester, and this is what we must be concentrating on.'

He finished, 'I was very happy with the work-rate from everybody today, it is a really good start, and I am very proud of the great football we played as a team today.'


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