The Colchester Gladiators lost their second straight game against the high flying Kent Exiles but
showed signs that the season is not yet lost.
Despite the ultimately lopsided scoreline, the Gladiators went toe to toe with the Exiles for the
first half but two turnovers on their first two possessions of the second, helped the Exiles pad the
score before a late touchdown against a tiring Colchester defence gave them a comfortable win.
After losing starting QB Rob Wickham last week, Curtis Bourke had a just a week to practice at
the centre of the Colchester offence before taking on a strong Kent defence.
There was not much to choose between the teams in the first half with both offences making
some progress before having to punt the ball away. The Gladiators’ running game was struggling
against the speedy Exiles linebackers and secondary, thwarting Bourke’s efforts to find his
The first quarter finished scoreless but the home side were quick to break the deadlock in the
second period when QB James Cook found receiver Aaron Whitworth in space and launched a
perfect strike. Whitworth then outran the defence for a spectacular 80 yard touchdown. The
extra point was kicked to give Kent a 7-0 lead.
The Gladiators could not sustain a drive but Jack Baily and Josh Milgate combined to sack the QB
and force a punt.
Bourke started to find his receivers with Sam Gennings catching passes for 16, 13 and 19 yards,
down to the 20. He then finished the drive with a pinpoint throw to Jake Wickham, who hauled in
the strike for a score. Nathan Brown’s kick was wide but the Gladiators had drawn to within one
Dan Jones sacked Cook to prevent any chance of a quick response and the first half ended with
the teams separated by a single point.
The Gladiators received the ball to start the second half and were determined to come out firing,
but on the first play from scrimmage, Bourke was picked off in spectacular style by cornerback
Nick Mayer on their own 28. The Exiles took full advantage of the short field when their running
back ran in from a yard out. The extra point was again good to increase the lead to 14-6.
Disaster struck on Colchester’s next drive. After finding Wickham for 22 yards, Bourke was blind-
sided on the next play, forcing the ball loose which was recovered by Kent. They again made no
mistake, taking seven plays to travel the 39 yards, finishing with an eight yard run. The point after
took the score to 21-6.
Defences dominated the rest of the third quarter before the Gladiators began a drive at their 17.
An eight yard run by Eddie Collison and a 21 yard completion to Wickham took the ball to
midfield but a second interception put paid to any hopes of a comeback.
With injuries taking their toll, there was time for the Exiles to score their fourth of the day, a 38
yard run on third and long while the PAT conversion gave the final score a lopsided look at 28-6.
The Gladiators have no time to recover as they travel to London for a rematch against the
Hornets, at Mill Hill Rugby Club, London NW7, kick off 2.30pm.