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Mulvihill Blocks Field Goal to Ensure Exiles Victory

Sussex Thunder 13-14 Kent Exiles

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A dramatic 4th quarter comeback including two touchdown scores lifted the Kent Exiles to a narrow victory over the Sussex Thunder 14-13 in Brighton on Sunday.

The Exiles had started the young season brightly with a comfortable opening day victory over the Colchester Gladiators but struggled on the road trailing 13-0 going into the fourth quarter of a close encounter before touchdowns from Ben Griffin and Adam Lillis ensured Kent left the seaside with their 100% record still intact.

Kent had five interceptions in their home opening victory and their defence started in a similar stead here with Aaron Patterson picking off the Thunder quarterback early in the first quarter. However the Exiles offense could not convert possession into points and rather turned the ball straight back to the Thunder when James Bertram-Smith was adjudged to have fumbled the football on a 14-yard reception. The turnover led to Sussex's opening touchdown a few plays later.

The Exiles offense continued to misfire in the first half and Zac Ritchie threw an interception in the second quarter to gift possession to the Thunder. A few plays, including a huge 67-yard touchdown pass, and Sussex had extended their lead to 13-0.

Both teams gave up turnovers as the first half wound down but the visitors could not capitalise and they went into the second half needing an offensive spark to trigger a comeback.

That spark did not seem likely to come from the Exiles running game which was so explosive against Colchester in the season opener. Instead it finally came from a passing game which burst into life in the fourth quarter.

Off the back of a valuable interception from Richard Matkins at around midfield, quarterback Zac Ritchie connected first with Dayne Robinson and then Ben Griffin for the touchdown to put the Exiles back within striking distance with plenty of time on the clock.

A big defensive stand from the Exiles who had been defensively stout as they had been in the season opener forced a three-and-out from the Thunder and penalties from the hosts put the Exiles in great field position to try and take the lead.

Once again it was Ritchie who led the way, first with a 9 yard gain on the ground and then a 10-yard touchdown pass to Adam Lillis to tie the game up at 13-13. Kicker Ash Faiers stepped up cooly to add the extra point and Kent had the narrowest of leads with limited time remaining.

The drama was not over however as the Thunder executed a decent 47-yard drive down field to set up a 28-yard field goal with only 3 seconds remaining. However, the Exiles defence stood strong once again, and thanks in part to a high snap, Charles Mulvihill blocked the kick to give Kent the victory.

Zac Ritchie led by example with 152 yards passing and two touchdowns, Ben Griffin had 5 receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side, Richard Matkins had two vital interceptions with Aaron Patterson and Matthew Sharod also securing one each. Joe Alexis recorded nine tackles and a sack with Joseph Selenkay racking up five tackles.

Next up for the Exiles, on the 15th May, is the visit of the Bury Saints, who also hold a 100% record in the new season after wins over the Thunder and Thrashers.

(Match Report by Andrew Bunting)

Highlights of the Game are available on YouTube, courtesy of Sergeworld Media -




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