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Exiles Outlaws make solid start to the year


May 7th saw the Kent Exiles Outlaws make history as they kicked off the first Kent Exile dual Youth season. The hosts were league new boys the Kent Phoenix and this team were to be the Outlaws first ever National League opponents.

Both sides started off in very determined fashion on defence, the Outlaws moving the ball with slightly better consistency, however the Phoenix drew first blood, with a well-judged pass which the wideout caught in stride and streaked away for the first score.

The teams turned around at the half with the Phoenix leading 6-0. Onto the second half, and almost immediately, the Outlaws lost defensive rookie James Sharp to a shoulder injury which ruled him out for the day. With defences on top, it was no surprise that the Exiles first score was from the dark side, and Jess Ferguson, playing at NT, powered through the centre block, forcing the Phoenix QB to fumble in his own end-zone. Jess recovered the ball for the score.

The Outlaws took the lead from the PAT attempt, when rookie Tom Slade took a great catch from QB Connor Weeden. Unfortunately, the Phoenix hit back almost immediately. A hopeful pass upfield was broken up by Adeyemi Adesanya-Shine, but as the ball bounced off his lid, it popped into the arms of an unintended receiver, who ran in for the score.

The Exiles fought back however, and behind great running by rookie RB Jaden Phillips, and helped by a great midfield catch by Elliot Pearson, the Outlaws strode within striking distance of a score. With 90 seconds on the clock, Weeden found Adesanya-Shine for what looked like the go-ahead score, but it was called back due to a penalty. This allowed the Phoenix to kneel the game out, winning 12 - 7.

The young Exiles then lined up against the East Kent Mavericks, and were soon in a deep hole. The defence, marshaled well by Lewis Farrell, assisted by Pearson and Malachi Slue-Williams, played some good football, but could not stem the tide which threatened to swamp them. On offence, the speed of the Mavericks defence gave the Exiles a whole heap of trouble, and worse was to follow, when a lengthy injury break to receiver Kirsty Mcintyre resulted in her missing the rest of the day.

With quick passing, a potent deep threat, and lightning defence, the Mavericks were proving too much for the inexperienced Outlaws, and the teams ended the half with the Mavericks 34-0 up. At this point, with two players being assessed in A&E, and further injuries to several other players, the Outlaws withdrew from the contest.

Last up for the banged up Exiles was another new team to Youth, the South London Renegades. The game started much like the last game, with the Renegades taking a quick lead on a deep pass, and there was worse to come, with the Exiles fumbling at their own 5 yard line. Although the Kent back recovered the ball, he was tackled in the end-zone for a safety.

The Outlaws showed more resilience in this game however, and behind some great blocking by Tom Slade and Steve Pontikos, Jaden Phillips carried the ball down the field, and eventually broke the plane for the Outlaws opening offensive TD of the day. The Renegades hit back with another deep TD pass, before Phillips scored again at the end of the half, this time the hard yards beforehand being gained by Nathan Oluwa. The teams turned around with the score 14-12 to the Renegades.

In the second half, the Exiles came out with much more purpose and drive, and on the first defensive series, Jess Ferguson again powered through a block and tackled the QB in the endzone for a safety. On the resulting offensive drive, again from great ground work by Oluwa and Phillips, Weeden found Jess Ferguson with a great pass to push the Exiles ahead. The defence help firm again on the next series, and again behind some great blocking, Phillips completed a deserved hat-trick of rushing TD's. Weeden found Adesanya-Shine on the PAT, and the Outlaws held out to record their first ever victory 27-12.

Head Coach Julius Hobbs said," our thanks go out to the Phoenix for hosting. They did a good job, and they provided perfectly good facilities." He went on, "the first game was hard fought, and I felt we adapted well. Neither team deserved the loss, and we must respect the decision on our disallowed touchdown. Had we taken all of our catches, the flag would not have mattered". Adding, "the second game was very difficult for such an inexperienced team, we were always up against it if we picked up a few injuries. The Mavericks looked like they had played together for a while, and with their fast and slick play, we struggled to handle them. I felt it was in the best interest of the players in terms of their safety that we call the game."

Continuing, he said," the third game was the best of the day, highly competitive and played in a good spirit. The momentum swung too and fro, and I was very proud of the character of my players. We deserved the win, and can now look forward to our next tournament with some confidence, and the knowledge that we can be competitive". He ended "I was very pleased with the way that the players conducted themselves, and for a team so inexperienced and young, they did very well. We have to keep focus, execute more clinically, and hopefully with a deeper squad next time up, we will take steps forward and improve."


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