Essex Spartans vs. Ipswich Cardinals

The Essex Spartans made it two for two on Sunday with a clear win over Suffolk-based Ipswich Cardinals.

Two touchdowns from #11 Norris Owusu, plus a field goal and two conversions from #84 Mitch Arthur saw the Spartans open scoring in the second quarter, finishing the half 7-0 up and scoring ten additional points in the second.

The first half was all drama as initially two rushes on the opening drive from Owusu and #1 Dwayne Ferdinand saw the home side gain two consecutive first downs; the Cardinals then recovered a fumble to send their offense to the field.

Spartans defense held the visitors to a single set of downs and fought a hard fight against a rejuvenated Ipswich defense, in which a fumble from #9 Steve Cox was recovered by QB #8 Tom Macfarlane to save the drive.

Early in the second quarter when still 0-0, Spartans #3 Ryan Lines was tackled with such force that his helmet was removed. Players on both sides intervened and the game was delayed by several minutes as the officials briefed both Head Coaches as to the consequences of the incident. Lines was unhurt and not involved; Cardinals #76 was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct and Spartans #9 Cox and #92 Ricky Pease were also ejected for leaving the players box and entering the field.

The mood quickly improved for the home side as Owusu ran twenty yards for the touchdown and Arthur converted afterwards with ease. The two-minute warning was given on the Spartans third down and the half finished 7-0 in favour of Essex.

Ipswich returned with force as their #85 ran for twenty-five yards for a first down and put the pressure on Essex right away. However Spartans defense held the position and a turnover put Arthur back on the field for a timely three-point field goal to extend the Spartans lead to 10-0 by the middle of the third quarter.

Owusu again made it a double as he slipped passed defense at 30 yards to make the touchdown, with Arthur again converting to bring the Spartans’ lead up to 17 points to nothing.

Early in the fourth Owusu crossed the line with the ball for the third time, but the TD was flagged for holding and he couldn’t repeat the feat at the next play. The Cardinals received a late penalty of fifteen yards and a first down to Essex for roughing the kicker, but no further points on the board came of it and the match ended amicably with the Spartans taking their second win of the season.

The Essex Spartans travel to London Blitz B on Sunday 14th May for their third league fixture, and return home on Sunday 4th June for an Essex derby against the East Essex Sabres.

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Essex Spartans vs. London Hornets

It was all last-minute heartbreak for the Essex Spartans as they put in the performance of their against table-toppers London Hornets on Sunday.

The score remained nail-bitingly tight throughout, with touchdowns from Luke Beard, Norris Owusu and Ernest Owusu being outshone in the last few seconds with a late TD from the visitors.

The Spartans maintained an excellent opening drive from the outset and struggled against a fearsome Hornets defense, holding them to a 0-0 score until the turnover. Hornets #32 was able to make a 40-yard run before being brought down by the Spartans defense on the 10-yard line, meaning their opening TD was somewhat inevitable by their third down.

The stalemate of the two teams holding each other to the middle ground continued throughout the remainder of the half, and the reasonably clean half was completed in under an hour. Spartans final attempt at field goal at the close was wide of the posts, and the half ended 0-6 to the Hornets.

Quickly into the second half the Hornets attempted to catch for an interception, which fell right into the hands of Spartans Luke Beard who ran it for the equaliser. Hornets inched ahead again with a two-point safety, shortly before their #40 dashed unmarked for several yards for the TD, increasing the gap to Spartans 6-14 Hornets.

It was #11 Norris Owusu to the rescue for the Spartans as he ran back a kick return for a touchdown, narrowing the deficit. A short-lived joy, however, as Hornets #40 fought off several defenders before being tackled on the line, and fell into the end zone with the ball safely in his hands for the TD.

A first-class interception in the dying moments of the game from #44 Ernest Owusu, and a solid 85-yard run into the end zone saw the Spartans back in contention with just a two-point gap, and two minutes left on the clock.

A very late TD for the Hornets was flagged and recalled for holding, but it was all too easy for the visitors to run it straight in again in the final seconds, ending the game 18-27 to the unbeaten London Hornets.

The Essex Spartans seniors will return to training following the winter break, whilst the London Hornets complete their final game of the regular season this weekend against the Wembley Stallions, before commencing their playoff programme.

27 - 18
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Essex Spartans vs. Ipswich Cardinals

The Essex Spartans American Football seniors took their second victory of the 2016 season over the Ipswich Cardinals on Saturday night, beating them 23-7.

A solid opening drive from Essex fell just short of the red zone on the fourth down, but was quickly overturned when #16 Joe Trigg caught his second interception in as many games. The Spartans still struggled to break through the Ipswich defense and the first quarter ended 0-0.

In the second #24 Dwayne Ferdinand was two yards short of the end zone following a 15-yard run when the Spartans were flagged for holding. Spartans #52 Tom Kitchen scored a field goal on the fourth down to give the Spartans a three-point edge, soon outdone by Spartans Oli Huke with a touchdown and conversion from Kitchen.

Ferdinand then re-captured the ball for a TD in the last minutes of the half, seeing off the first half with a comfortable lead of 16-0; the Spartans highest lead at half-time for the season.

The second half started in dramatic fashion as a backwards pass was picked up from the ground by unsuspecting defensive rookie #33 Ollie Brookes, who turned and ran to the end zone for his first TD in his first season. A swift one-point conversion from Kitchen gave the Spartans their winning score of 23 points halfway through the third quarter.

Ipswich had late consolation as they took advantage of an unmarked man and ran the ball for forty yards, along with a kick conversion. A strong performance from Spartans #81 Ryan Lines in later stages of the game almost saw an increase in points for the home side, but the Saturday night thriller ended a respectable 23-7 in favour of Essex.

The Spartans return to training this Sunday in Tilbury ahead of their final game of the season against bitter rivals London Hornets, at home at Thurrock Rugby Club on Sunday 7th August.

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Essex Spartans U17 vs. Hertfordshire Cheetahs U17

24 - 33
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Essex Spartans U17 vs. Bedfordshire Blackhawks U17

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Essex Spartans U17 vs. Colchester Gladiators U17

6 - 27
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Essex Spartans vs. London Blitz B

21 - 8
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Essex Spartans vs. Cambridgeshire Cats

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Essex Spartans vs. Wembley Stallions

Essex blues continued for the Spartans as they went 0-3 on their first home game at a new venue on Saturday night.

Despite strong defensive presence, two late touchdowns and an interception early on, it was impossible for the home side to tame the now table-topping Wembley Stallions under the lights.

The drama began early in the first quarter as Stallions #38 ran forty yards for the first touchdown of the game. It was briefly flagged by an official for a block in the back but was ultimately overruled, leaving the Spartans trailing 0-7 after a few minutes of time.

Spartans spirit picked up from the second quarter when an interception from #44 Ernest Owusu led a fierce offensive drive forward, and a 15-yard penalty against the Stallions for unsportsmanlike conduct could have worked well in Spartans favour. However, possession was quickly overturned after the Spartans failed to make progress and Stallions #32 ran for a 50-yard TD.

A third touchdown for the Stallions was flagged and called back just before the half, leaving the Spartans a modest 13 points behind at the half.

The Spartans led a shaky start to the second half by conceding again, and a fourth touchdown for the visitors was stopped just short of the line by the defense before the third quarter.

The final fifteen minutes saw a lengthy struggle with something like a hearty comeback for the home side; as Stallions #8 extended the lead easily to 0-26, Spartans #11 Norris Owusu ran over 90 yards untouched to at last open scoring for the Spartans.

It was short-lived glory however, as the Stallions soon retaliated again and extended their lead to 7-32 with just five minutes to go on the clock. After a scrappy battle to get over the line, #13 Felix Olu gave the Spartans six more points but the conversion was missed, ending the game 13-32 in the favour of the visitors.

Wembley Stallions now sit top of the table with three wins from three games. The Essex Spartans return to training this weekend and will face the Cambridgeshire Cats at home on Saturday 4th June.

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