London Hornets vs. Essex Spartans

The Essex Spartans suffered defeat again this weekend after a disastrous unravelling of a one-score deficit away at the London Hornets.

A touchdown from Felix Olu, a kick conversion from Tom Kitchen and a rare safety from Aaron Millar was little comfort as the Hornets achieved three interceptions in the first quarter, and polished off four touchdowns in the final ten minutes of the game.

The Spartans seemed to open with strength and confidence as Dexter Awoyemi blocked the first attempt at yardage by the Hornets. It was only a matter of minutes, however, before Pascal Kränzlein ran the ball for the first TD of the game which was successfully converted, leaving the Spartans trailing 8-0 as the game had barely begun.

Essex seemed to wake up to the threat as a solid defense held back a persistent Offensive Line, but after conceding considerable yardage they couldn’t hold on and the Hornets scored a second time, and converted for the 16-0 lead.

The second quarter began much in the same vein as the Hornets ran a third TD almost straight on the whistle, which was flagged and disallowed for offensive pass interference. The Spartans were able to take advantage of the disappointment by running 15 yards clear into the end zone by Felix Olu, followed by a successful kick conversion from Tom Kitchen, narrowing the deficit to 16 – 7.

London began to disintegrate as they were award two fifteen-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike behaviour, including a count of verbal abuse. The half came to a close as Aaron Millar achieved a Safety, leaving the game at half-time a reasonable 16 – 9 in favour of the home side.

The Essex Spartans appeared rejuvenated as they put up a solid front against clearly shaken Hornets at the start of the second half. Again this was short-lived as Peter Kaminski for the Hornets inched past a fierce Spartan defense and another conversion saw them fall behind to 24 – 9.

From early in the third quarter the Hornets began to run away with the game as the visitors conceded yet again to extend their lead to 30 – 9, but mercifully missed the conversion on that occasion. To add insult to injury, Spartans Norris Owusu tried to recover a fumble over the line and awarded a further six points to the opposition, extending the lead even further to 36 – 9.

Essex fell completely out of the game as they tried to recover what was left, but as interception after interception went against them from a massively elated Hornets side, two more touchdowns were conceded before the end to finish the game a disappointing 48 – 9.

The Essex Spartans return to training this Sunday, and will face 2-0 Wembley Stallions at home on Saturday 7th May under the lights at Thurrock Rugby Club.

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London Hornets vs. Essex Spartans

The Essex Spartans’ eyes remain on the play-offs after a tense and lengthy confrontation in the East End against rivals London Hornets on Sunday, which ended in an unusual draw of 24 points apiece.

Eager to overturn the 12 – 22 loss to the Hornets on home soil back in May, the Spartans were off to a flying start with a 25 yard kick-off return from #44 Ernest Owusu.

The Hornets struggled to make progress on their drive with their first down flagged twice for offside and a substitution infraction, and then suffered a five-yard penalty for a face-cage incident. Spartans #13 Felix Olu opened the gate for the Spartans in their 3rd down with a 25 yard dash on the outside to put the visitors in front 0 – 6.

Ever the retaliators, the Hornets QB threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on their next drive to waiting #14 who levelled the field 6 – 6. Their joy was short-lived however, as Spartans #90 Aaron Millar tackled on the conversion and caused a fumble. Spartans DB #11 Norris Owusu grabbed the ball and ran it the full distance of the pitch to put the Spartans back in the lead 6 – 8.

The atmosphere stayed tense throughout the remainder of the half, as the five-minute warning was given with no change to the score. In the dying moments, #44 Owusu made a 45 yard run with returning #25 Lee Millar giving considerable aid.

It was an outstanding 25-yard touchdown pass from Spartans QB #18 Myles Peterson to WR #19 Ashton Lord that extended the Spartans again to 6 – 16. The Hornets, determined not to finish the half on a deficit, managed to outrun the Spartans defence in their final drive and finished the half 12 – 16.

It was all drama in the second half as the Hornets put themselves ahead for the first time with an early touchdown, only for #11 Owusu to once again snatch the conversion and grant two further points to the Spartans. The Hornets then turned the Spartans over once more with another touchdown, and missed the kick that would eventually decide the result.

The third quarter passed in what can only be described as a nail-biting defensive stalemate, as the Hornets battled to keep their lead and the Spartans clawed for a leveller. #13 Olu came close on the fourth down at the close of the quarter but was tackled with just 5 yards left to run, to go into the fourth quarter with the Spartans still trailing 24 – 18.

Several on-field scuffles and disagreements escalated quickly in the final quarter which led to Spartans Head Coach Sean Benton being ejected from the field – an ironic turn of events echoing Hornets HC Anthony Price’s ejection at the Tony Palmer Memorial Field in May, the last time the teams met.

It was QB Peterson and Olu to the rescue once more when Peterson pitched to Olu, who ran in for the equaliser with less than 90 seconds on the clock. The conversion was unsuccessful and the final whistle came with 24 points for each team.

The Essex Spartans return to training this weekend and will be on the road for their penultimate game of the season away at Ipswich Cardinals on Sunday 26th July.

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