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Women’s Contact 2023 Season Review

Hear what Women’s Contact Head Coach Carl Alexis had to say about the 2023 season…

“2023 would usher in a big change being the first year to offer 9 aside football. However for us as we were borderline numerically we decided to postpone the move for this year and build towards it for 2024. Instead we used the long off season to work hard preparing for what lay ahead.

Tournament 1 @Norwich 10-06-23
Our first tournament had us heading off to Norwich for a first time meeting with the Devils and a return clash with old rivals the Cheetahs. The long drive, extreme heat and huge break before our first game seemed to be a double edged sword as we proceeded to win our first game but lose the second. This was a wakeup call as we now knew that this was not going to be an easy season and that we would have to fight hard for every win. Scores: Game 1, Exiles 33 – Cheetahs 22. Game 2, Devils 20 – Exiles 7
Tournament 2 @Hertfordshire 01-07-23
Another scorching hot day but also a chance to avenge last tournaments previous loss. A back-and-forth battle saw us come out victors against the Cheetahs whilst a similarly evenly matched one was to give us a revenge victory against the Devils. Both games had tested us to the limits but we could see where we were improving and adjusting to the teams we were facing. We were working in the right direction and with the next tournament at home it was a chance to put it all together. Scores: Game 1, Exiles 18 – Cheetahs 14. Game 2, Exiles 20 – Devils 11
Tournament 3 @Home 15-07-23
With it being our home tournament I challenged the team to put on a show for our spectators and they did not disappoint. First up was Norwich and barring an early mistake we controlled every aspect of the game, dominating on both sides of the ball. Everybody on the team stepped up (including our rookies) and we came out victors because of it. Next up was Hertfordshire and although we leapt to an early 12 point lead they fought back by half time they had closed that gap. The second half was not to be so kind to them and another dominating display on O and D saw us pull away to win convincingly. This was a true team effort with literally everybody contributing to the wins. Scores: Game 1, Exiles 36 – Devils 7. Game 2, Exiles 36 – Cheetahs 9
Tournament 4 @Norwich 29-07-23
With just Norwich to play this would be the game that would decide who would progress to the post season. We started on form racking up an early lead but the Devils fought back hard and by half time had closed to within 5 points. The second half saw both teams battling hard and each time we pulled ahead they clawed back to keep themselves in the game. With the clock running out a 1st down would secure the win and with it down to a 4th and 1 the team gave everything for a mere 2 yards that gave us the first down, the win, the conference title and a trip to the Semi’s. We had won with a depleted squad and players playing both ways. We’d asked the team to sacrifice all they had and they did. Scores: Exiles 38 – Devils 33

Semi Finals @Loughborough 12-08-23
With the team full of positive energy we took the field to face the Teesside Steelers and straight away realised that it was going to be a very tough battle. The Steelers struck first and took the lead but we immediately returned the favour to bring it to 8-6 at the half. The second half was to be more of the same with both defences holding firm until a great play allowed us to take a 5 point lead.. Unfortunately the Steelers were not finished and drove hard downfield to retake the lead. With our backs against the wall and time running out we drove again. With the win in our sights we gave all we had and although we came excruciatingly close the fairy tale season had ended a

nd the Steelers had won by a point! Words cannot express how we felt. The team had worked so hard and gave all they had but it just wasn’t to be. With a second game to determine 3rd/4th place we had very little time to lick our wounds and very soon found ourselves centre stage against the Solent Thrashers.
Solent hit first scoring on the first play but we soon returned the favour to draw even. They struck again and again we responded closing the half tied 16-16. The second half was to be different though, it was to be an all Exile affair as we turned up the heat and with a crowd pleasing play we took the lead that we would keep. The Thrashers were to score once more but it was too little too late. Scores: Semi Final Exiles 13 – Steelers 14, 3rd/4th Place Game Exiles 28- Thrashers 24

We hadn’t achieved our final goal but we were now ranked 3rd in the country and I couldn’t be any prouder of our players and coaches. The team has grown and developed with every training session and game. Wins are great and so are championships but what we are growing is far more important.”