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Essex Spartans 9 - 31 East Kent Mavericks


Sometimes, the score line does not accurately reflect the game – and that can be said of the Spartans fifth game of the season, a 31-9 defeat to the East Kent Mavericks that saw the team play much better than the score suggests.

Ryan Towey in action

The Mavericks arrived at the Spartans home ground of Hannakins Farm brimming with confidence and boasting an impressive 3-1 record, good enough to be joint top of the Division. Many expected the visitors to make short work of the Spartans – but it seems the home team did not read the script.

Aaron Davidson boomed the opening kickoff, forcing the Mavericks return man to stumble backwards, fumbling the ball. As the Black Tide descended, he was left with no option but to fall on the ball at the 36 yard line, firing up the home team.

However, the Mavericks responded instantly, a deep pass the Spartans were unlucky to not intercept fell into the hands of a sprinting receiver, who took the ball the length of the field for the opening touchdown. A quick conversion later, and the Spartans were behind 7-0.

The Spartans offense, lead by quarterback James Dawson, played one of their better games of the season and combined powerful rushing with accurate passing to move the ball downfield. However, the Mavericks defense held firm and the home team were unable to trouble the scoreboard.

A tough day at the office for the Spartans

Utilising an option-heavy offense, the Mavericks were also able to move the ball, but as has been the Spartans strength, their defense also held firm, ensuring the Mavericks were unable to extend their lead.

Dawson had a fumble returned into the endzone by the Mavericks, but was fortunate to see the score called back by a penalty on the visiting team as the first quarter ended with the Spartans still trailing.

One again, it was the Spartans defense who scored the first points for Essex. With the Mavericks on their own 23-yard line, Ally Minto intercepted a pass and sped into the endzone for the touchdown. However, the conversion attempted failed, and the Spartans trailed by a single point.

Both defenses were in unforgiving moods, Tony Ellis recovering a fumble for the home team. Again, the Spartans moved the ball well on the Mavericks, Ryan Towey and Shulba Hunte joined in the backfield by Anthony Yeboah to provide a powerful rushing attack, and the Spartans found themselves with a first and goal as the two-minute warning approached.

Andrew Clarke

Dawson was inches away from the go-ahead score, receiver Phil Groombridge unable to pull in the pass, leaving Davidson to attempt the field goal. With both snap and hold good, Davidson was perfect on the attempt, and the visitors were stunned as the Spartans took a 9-7 lead.

Graham Sorhaindo saw an interception ruled out by a questionable roughing the passer penalty as the half ended, and the Spartans were in a good position to snatch a result that would have sent shockwaves throughout the league.

The game continued to be closely-fought in the third quarter, neither team giving an inch. The Mavericks regained the lead with a field goal of their own, before Nick Mayer recorded another interception on the season to ensure the game entered it’s final quarter with the score 10-9 to the visitors.

However, the upset victory was not to be. The Mavericks extended their lead early in the fourth quarter with an aerial score, and added to it shortly after with a long passing play. An interception of Dawson that was returned for a touchdown meant the game ended with a 31-9 score in favour of the Mavericks, a score that flatters the visitors and does not accurately reflect the huge steps forward the Spartans took as a team.

A dejected Spartans Head Coach Marc Saunders said, “Obviously the game didn’t go how we wanted, but we will be focusing on the positives that came out of it. In my opinion the score line does not does not do this Spartan team justice and we will be looking to prove that next week.”

The Spartans now embark on a two-game road trip, facing the South Wales Warriors and the Berkshire Renegades, before returning to Hannakins Farm to play old rivals the Kent Exiles on July 8th.

All images copyright Mikey Cartwright, Ponderosa Pics

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