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Youth move to 5-2 on the year!


On Saturday 23rd May, the Exiles Youth visited Hannakins Farm, home of the Essex Spartans, to face the home team, and the London Blitz. They already had a win from the day, as Norwich sadly folded for the season some weeks before.

The first game was between the Spartans and the Blitz, and in an exciting encounter, the Spartans recorded a close victory. The watching Exiles appeared to study their opponents closely, because they started like a train against their fierce rivals, the London Blitz.

On their first offensive possession, the Exiles took little time to score, behind excellent blocking from James Suraille, and Conor Rumble, springing Johnny Ndumbe from the backfield to sprint down the field giving the Exiles excellent field position. The offence capped off the drive with a pass to Jacques O' Dwyer, and the Kent side jumped ahead. The Exiles defence then set to work, giving the Blitz run game little room, and nose tackle Sean Lewis allowing the blitz QB little time. This paid off when a jump ball was picked off by DB Gareth Norman, and he slalomed down the field to paydirt.

The next Blitz drive had a very similar result, as again, Gareth Norman picked a pass out of the air, and with defensive blocking help, returned his second pick-6 of the half. The extra points were added by Andrew Bews, following a textbook block by Jay Vijayshanker, and the Exiles had raced to a 19-0 lead. This was the situation at the half, but the Exiles defence did not let up after the resumption. The unit including Theo Alexis, Alfie West, Sam Coppen, Harrison Hill, Michal Krawczak and Harry Woodley all kept the run game in check, with some tough tackling, and with renewed energy, NT's Luke Boxall and Sean Lewis kept the QB honest. In fact the, the next score was a safety from Luke Boxall, when he trapped the Blitz QB in the end-zone, after a critical fumble.

With the ensuing possession, the Exiles took to the ground with RB Sam Crawford, and after giving the offence great field position, QB Joe Bennett found Conor Rumble in the end-zone for a further score. The Exiles offence moved the ball again on their next possession, however despite great route-running from Alex Savine, Sam Adams, and Russell Oriunuta, they could not extend their lead.

Trying the ground game again, the Blitz found a little more room, and had the last say as time expired, still coming up short though, as the Exiles recorded a 27-6 victory.

The second fixture for the Exiles was against the home team, Essex Spartans, and the Kent side again started well, with the run game picking up where it left off for Johnny Ndumbe to sprint away and score. The Essex defence was a different proposition to the previous opponent, and on their next possession, Ndumbe was trapped inside the end-zone for a safety. Worse was to follow, as the Essex offence drove downfield, with a balanced offensive set, and scored a TD on their next possession. The Exiles hit back however, with good offensive play from Cameron Rose and Nathan Farmer, Joe Bennett found Jacques O'Dwyer for a go-ahead score. On the PAT attempt, a great cheer rang up from the sideline as Steven Pontikos, easily the smallest player on show, was found by Bennett, and took a fabulous catch to send the Exiles in 13-9 ahead at the half.

The Spartans came out with purpose in the second period, and quickly scored on a great pass play. Worse was to follow, as the Exiles threw a interception on their next offensive play, and this was returned for a score. The Exiles offence made no in-roads on an inspired Essex D, and a bad seven minutes was made catastrophic when the Exiles fumbled the ball barely eight yards out from their own goal line. The ball was punched in by a rampant Essex offence, and suddenly, the Exiles were two scores adrift. One feature of the Kent side though is that they do not quit, and with some aggressive blocking, Johnny Ndumbe was again sprung for an answering score. By now, the clock was an issue, and driving again, with no time-outs, the Exiles were on the march, however, a further interception stalled the drive, and effectively ended the game, with a final scoreline 28-19 to Essex.

Exiles Head Coach Julius Hobbs said 'I am really proud of the players for the great effort that they put in today, and I felt the third game was a great spectacle. I felt it was there for the taking, but Essex should be congratulated, they would not be denied. The results have really shown that this year, the Spartans will be a force in the division, and it will be interesting to see if the division is still in doubt come the last tournament of the season. We are still in the fight, and we now have a few weeks off to iron out the wrinkles and return to action with a real push for the title. I would like to thank both the Blitz and Essex for a couple of great games, and Essex for organising a really good tournament. My players should be very pleased with the way they played, they showed a lot of heart and total commitment, and we have put ourselves in a great position to qualify for the post-season.'  


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