Essex Spartans 27 - 6 Hampshire Thrashers
13th May 2012
The Spartans returned to winning ways in week 2 with an emphatic 27-6 victory over the Hampshire Thrashers, extending the teams unbeaten home run.
|Black Tide's Coming!|
Donning their new black kit, sponsored by Ed’s Diner, the Spartans played their first home game of the 2012 campaign at Hannakins Farm and dominated from the opening kickoff. Aaron Davidsons booming kick was stripped from the Thashers return man by Ally Minto, only for the officials to rule the player was down before Minto stole the pigskin.
Minto was out for revenge – and only two plays later, he got it, intercepting a wayward Thrahsers pass and returning it for the Spartans first points of 2012. With Davidson converting, the home team had jumped to a quick 7-0 lead.
After forcing the visitors into a 3-and-out, the Spartans offense took to the field for the first time in the game – and established themselves quickly. On the first play from scrimmage, running back Ryan Towey burst through the middle for a 50-yard gain. Two plays later, quarterback James Woodward found tight-end Paul Cossu open in the endzone for the rookie’s first touchdown as a Spartan. Davidson again converted and the advantage was extended to 14-0.
|Samuel Clarke breaks free|
The swarming Black Tide defense was relentless – Aaron Millar registered his first sack of the season early in the second quarter. The offense was smooth and efficient – captain Samuel Clarke with a breathtaking one-handed grab for a long gain. However, the mood was to change shortly after.
Woodward rolled right, and headed for the endzone. Putting his body on the line, leading as a captain, his mind solely on extending his teams lead, he put his shoulder down and fought his way in for the score, taking a solid hit in the process. Woodward remained grounded, and both teams took a knee as the medics attended to the injured passer. A broken collarbone.
As their captain was carted from the pitch, the Spartans re-grouped, and vowed to win the game for their injured team-mate. Nick Mayer snagged his second interception of the season shortly after, and a touchdown pass from backup quarterback James Dawson to Samuel Clarke was unlucky to be called back by a penalty.
As the two-minute warning sounded, Mayer registered his second pick of the game, but the Thrashers regained possession with an interception of their own. However, it was to prove fruitless, Minto intercepting an ill-advised pass in the endzone to end the half.
The third quarter saw both teams let their discipline slip. Costly penalties killed promising drives, and both teams struggled to make any impact. The quarter ended with the scoreline still 20-0 Essex.
|Spartans defense in action|
Oli Huke recorded another Spartan interception in the final quarter, and the Black Tide defense continued to snuff out any Thrasher threat. Samuel Clarke pulled off another outstanding grab only to be ruled out of bounds, and shortly after, the Thrashers were able to avoid the shutout with an aerial score of their own. The onside kick attempt failed, but with the Spartans unable to move the ball, it was down to Nick Mayer to kill off the Thrashers next drive with his third interception of the game, taking his season total to 4 picks in 2 games.
There was still time for one last score as the clock wound down – rookie running back Liam Mills mesmerising the Thrashers defense as he weaved his way through for his first touchdown for the Spartans. With Davidson nailing the conversion, the final whistle sounded with the score 27-6 to the home team.
After the game, Spartans Head Coach Marc Saunders said, “This week we managed to shake off the opening week defeat and eliminate many of the mistakes. Our discipline did slow us down somewhat in the second half which we need to move past but all in all a good day for the Spartans.”
The Spartans can now turn their attentions to their week 3 matchup, and the visit of the Sussex Thunder. With the team sitting at 1-1 after two games, this promises to be a crucial matchup as the team look to improve their position in Division One.
Day by day – we get better and better . . .
Roll Tide Roll!
All images copyright Mikey Cartwright, Ponderosa Pics