Maidstone Pumas 6-35 Kent Exiles
Exiles Defence On The Button.
The Kent Exiles travelled to their perennial rivals the Pumas on Sunday, and took the short trip home victorious, and moved to a 4-2 record for the season.
The Pumas took the opening kick-off, and the Exiles defence stamped it's authority on the game from the outset forcing them to punt after 3 plays and handing the ball to the Matt Duncan led offence. On their second play Duncan (11 of 21, 238yds, 3 TD's) found Roy Hall ( 2 for 81yds, TD) on the sideline, and the speedy receiver took the ball 64 yards to the endzone for the score and a lead the Exiles never looked like losing. Mike Levett, newly signed from the Gateshead Senators, stepped in as long snapper and Gary Ead duly slotted the point for a 7-0 lead, this teaming was to be on song all day with Ead converting all five of his PAT attempts.
Once again the Exiles defence, led by Steve Collison (8 tackles), were dominant, but this time the Pumas got off a good punt, and pinned the Exiles back inside their 20 yard line. This was not to faze the offence in the least, and they embarked on a long drive. Good running by Martin Jefkins (9 for 68yds) and Alan Hands (7 for 31yds) who were subbing for the injured Stewart Muir, moved the chains consistently between short passes from Duncan to his receiving corp, and the drive was finished by Lee Nash's short burst up the middle from 5 yards out, and a 14-0 lead.
The Pumas again fielded the kick off, only to meet some more stiff resistance, another possession finished early after a sack from Carl Alexis (3 tackles, sack) and the Exiles offence started again. This time it was through the air the damage was done, Hall and Grahame Warby (5 for 104yds, 2 TD's) made first down yardage before Duncan found Warby again from 25 yards out between two Puma defenders for the score, and a 21-0 lead at the half.
Alex Campbell fielded the opening kick off for the Exiles, and weaved his way 81 yards for the score, only to see it cruelly cut out by a flag following a block in the back. Not to be denied the Exiles took over on the short field, and Alan Hands duly put the points back on the board, carrying two Puma's on his back as he crossed the line for an 11 yard touchdown run, and a 28-0 lead.
The rest of the third quarter was washed out, literally, by some torrential rain, both sides spilling the ball and committing penalties. Just as the downpour ended the Pumas punted again thanks to a sack from Steven Garwood (4 tackles 1/2 sack) and Eric Williams (4 tackles 1/2 sack), but with the ball now resembling a bar of soap Hall muffed the return for the grateful Pumas to recover in their best field position of the day. A couple of Leigh Akehurst runs set up Phillip Thurgood for the score from the one yard line, the point after was missed but the Pumas were on the board, but still trailed 28-6.
The Exiles made sure there was no hope of a comeback on the next drive, Duncan found Alan Hands for a 24 yard pickup, before finding Warby again this time from 4 yards out for the score and the 35-6 scoreline.
"We gave a good, solid performance today" commented Exiles Head Coach Phil Wood, "the Pumas are no mugs, and have come on in leaps and bounds from last season, but we stuck to our game-plan and limited their opportunities well, I'm especially pleased with the defence today, they really played for each other".
In an unusual scheduling twist the Exiles now play the Pumas again this Sunday at home, the game will kick off at 12 noon and will be followed immediately by the Exiles youth team, the Brewers, in action against the Bath Cardinals in some BYAFA action. Full details can be found by logging on to the Exiles new website www.kentexiles.co.uk