After a National Champion Title winning campaign in 2017, Tamworth Phoenix started the attack on the 2018 crown against the newly promoted Manchester Titans.
The game started slowly with three drives all resulting in punts. The Nix’s punt trapped the Titans on their 1 yard line and allowed the Phoenix to force a quick three and out and regain possession after the punt on the Titans 33 yard line. Two quick runs for 7 and 4 yards respectively allowed quarterback Patrick Daley to find receiver Will Hussey for a 22 yard score.
The Titans looked to be getting a solid drive going and got to the halfway mark when their drive stalled, going for it on fourth down an incompletion handed the Phoenix the ball back. The Nix showed their prowess in the ground game with three long rushes of 17, 9 then a 25 yard run which allowed running back Deji Alli to power into the end zone, but with a missed extra point the score was only 13-0. Another Titans drive ended with a punt back to Tamworth to end the first quarter.
Tamworth’s next drive ended the same way the last two had with points being put on the board. A couple of incompletions mixed in with some strong running from the Phoenix’s stable of running backs drove Tamworth to the 11 yard line. The next play, the Nix were in the end zone, Daley finding Adam Hope on a swing pass who punched it into the end zone. Manchester’s next drive was stagnant, gaining good yards in the passing game, but the Nix defence was stuffing the Titan’s runners well behind the line of scrimmage. The Titan’s went for it again on fourth down this time coming inches short of the first down marker. The Nix’s next drive they were back with their devastating ground game keeping on pounding away with decent yardage. A deadly 22 yard pass by Daley to Hussey brought Tamworth within striking distance and a couple of plays later another six points were on the board. Rookie running back Marc Bonazebi making multiple Titan players miss on his way to the end zone.
Manchester’s following drive did not go the way they wanted; an incompletion on first down and a run for 3 yards left them with 7 yards to get on third down. The Titans quarterback, looking for his receiver just past the down marker, let it fly when Oli Campbell jumped up and picked off the pass and ran the ball back 26 yards to bring the score two 34-0. With the first half nearing its end and Tamworth smelling blood in the water an onside kick was fumbled by Manchester and recovered by the Nix to give them great field position with under a minute to go. Tamworth wasted no time and with the first play of the drive Daley hit receiver Sam Huxtable for a 34 yard touchdown to bring the score at half time to 40- 0 to Tamworth.
With a running clock in the second half Tamworth had the perfect drive with 7 runs and 2 passes, getting the ball down to the 1 yard line allowed running back Alex Lenkowski to burst the line and score. Another quick three and out by Manchester and a great punt return by Sam Huxtable gave Tamworth great field position to begin the fourth quarter. More positive running by Tamworth gave Marc Bonazebi chance to grab his second touchdown of the day and to increase the score to 53-0. Manchester started their next drive with a nice 23 yard pass for a first down but following an incompletion and a five yard pass, left Manchester in a difficult position on third down. The third down play was read beautifully by linebacker Chris Thacker as he intercepted the pass and gained some positive yards after. Tamworth’s drive didn’t move far the first two plays but on third down backup quarterback Angus Cook threw a gorgeous 39 yard bomb to receiver Adam Hennessy to bring the score up to 60-0. There were some consolation points for Manchester to finish the day, as they finally got a drive going well and a long pass brought them into the end zone for a well-deserved scored to end the game 60-7.
The result is a perfect start for new head coach Jason Scott and for the attack on the 2018 Britbowl crown! Tamworth’s next game is in Europe against the Copenhagen Towers on April 28th , look out for more details on the live stream later this week!