MATCH REPORT: Phoenix 51 – 21 Merseyside Nighthawks

Tamworth’s third game of the season saw them on the road again, this time at Merseyside Nighthawks who like the Phoenix were two wins from two this season. The Nighthawks will be looking to improve on their impressive debut season in the Premier Division after they finished 2nd behind Tamworth and lost to eventual Britbowl winners London Warriors in the semi-finals. The ‘Nix, who were making the trip comparatively light on numbers, would have had to have been on their game to avoid their first regular season defeat since 2015.

Any potential nerves were settled early on however, when #5 Elliot Walters caught the 17 yard pass and snuck in at the pylon for the score, after he made two first downs during the drive to get into the red-zone.

RB Elliot Walters breaking away on another run.

RB Elliot Walters breaking away on another run. Photo courtesy of Nick Mortimer.

Merseyside would have keen to grab a quick response and they got down the field despite some excellent pressure from the defensive linemen giving the opposition QB no time whatsoever. The Pressure eventually paid off when defensive talisman, #68 Stephen Gregory, got to the quarterback and forced the fumble that was well recovered in a pile of bodies by Wayne Drew.

Momentum was well with Tamworth now and they doubled their lead soon after despite some sloppy penalties. QB Pat Daley throwing the 53 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver #87 William Hussey who expertly got ahead of the cornerback to catch the ball coming over his shoulder as he sauntered into the endzone.

The defence were on fire and they handed the ball back to the O after only two plays when the Nighthawks QB rifled a sloppy pass way over his receivers head which was well picked off by #19 Hilton Forsyth who managed to grab the ball despite being unsighted and with minimal reaction time. With such a short field it wasn’t long before Tamworth had their third score of the 1st quarter, Marcus Boswell getting his name on the score sheet with the 12 yard catch.

Merseyside did get points on the board in their first drive of the second quarter however; it took some hard work and some trickery to do so with a fake punt rescuing the drive at its midway point. The quarterback kept the ball for the 1-yard run to the endzone.

The second quarter ended up turning into a shootout when Tamworth scored again, this time after a good return on the kick off by #25 Deji Ali, putting the offense past the halfway line and Marcus Boswell catching for his second touchdown of the game. The Nighthawks had an almost instant reply with an absolute peach of a pass to a wide-open receiver, going from deep in their own half to the goal line. The ball was punched in on the next play and that completed the scoring for the half leaving the score at 27-14.

First blood of the second half was drawn by the Nighthawks, which left them within touching distance for the first time in the game but this was to be the first and last time they came close to the Phoenix as it was to be the last time they crossed the goal line.

The Phoenix began to turn the screw. That man Elliot Walters again marching the offense forward with a nice 38 yard run helped by some excellent downfield blocking. We were still yet to have a rushing touchdown however as #89 Will Hussey did well to hold on to the 6-yard touchdown pass.

The defence came very close to getting their own points onto the scoreboard when #44 Chris Thacker, on a blitz, waltzed through the Merseyside offensive line and hit the QB who fumbled the ball. Defensive End Wayne Drew picked the ball up and made it to the 4-yard line before being brought down. The first rushing TD of the game was scored by #9 Adam Hope.

It was all about Walters and Daley for the final touchdown of the game. The former getting into opposition territory with a nice 25-yard run only stopped by the last man forcing him out of bounds or it would have been to the house. Pat Daley threw successive long passes for a combined 50 yards to put the ball on the goal line. Elliot Walters fittingly getting the points for a well earned touchdown.

Completing the scoring late in the game and grabbing the second “50 Burger” of the season was #17 Alex Lenkowski with the short field goal.

The eventual score line of 51-21 was a fair reflection on the game, a game where the linemen reigned supreme, the offensive men giving the backs all the room they needed, creating channels, and the defensive front 7 constantly pressuring the opposition QB into making costly mistakes.

The defensive front were dominant throughout the day.

The ‘Nix defensive front swarm the Nighthawks QB. Photo courtesy of Kevin Jefferson.

Tamworth, who now stand clear at the top of the Premier North at 3-0, welcome a new look, and bottom of the table, Sheffield Giants side to Atherstone on June 4th for a 14:30pm kick off.

Written by Dan Myatt.             

MATCH REPORT: Phoenix 27 – 20 Edinburgh Wolves

Game two of the season saw Tamworth head north of the border to face Premier Division new boys Edinburgh Wolves, a side that will be confident of testing the Phoenix defence after an impressive result at Sheffield and a missed extra point away from beating fellow Scotsmen East Kilbride in week 1.

And indeed the defence was well tested when in the opening drive the Wolves QB marched the Edinburgh offence slowly but surely up the field with precision short passes, eventually scoring the opening touchdown with a 9 yard QB keeper. The point after try was well blocked by #34 Lewis Freeman coming in from the side.

The pressure was on the Tamworth offence to respond, and they were on the scoreboard quickly after an excellent 50-yard run by RB Elliot Walters and a nice 20-yard catch by WR James Hossack put the ‘Nix on the Edinburgh goal line. The touchdown eventually being punched in on 4th down by #25 Deji Ali.

7-6 to Tamworth is how the first quarter would end, the sides exchanging possession after some good work but both unable to find a way through the defences.

The Phoenix got their second score early in the second quarter with some excellent running by Walters & Ali all being made possible by the offensive line getting some good push against the Wolves defensive front. Marcus Boswell catching the 1-yard touchdown pass.

Soon the Tamworth offence grabbed their third TD, this time entirely through the air with 94 passing yards in just 5 attempts by QB Pat Daley who supplied two consecutive 30+ yard passes caught by Will Hussey and Ben Burslem, the latter getting the final catch of the drive for the score.

With half time fast approaching Edinburgh needed something to keep them within touching distance, and they managed to get what they needed after the impressive Wolves QB got them down to the goal line in double quick time and then tossed the ball to the running back for the touchdown to make the score 20-13 at the half.

The second half started with some stern defence from both sides, Tamworth quickly forcing the Wolves 3 & out, and them replying with a fumble recovery. Fans of defensive football will have loved what they were seeing with some proper battles in the trenches taking place and good drives by both offenses being stopped. That is until a cheeky pass over the top outfoxed the Phoenix defence, tying the game at 20 and making for a grandstand 4th quarter.

The promise of an exciting last 15 minutes was granted when the Phoenix quickly got themselves into the red zone and onto the 1 yard line after a 90 yard drive, but the Edinburgh defence remained strong and forced the turnover on downs.

The Tamworth defence were more than a match however and quickly handed the ball back to the offence and this time they got the points they desperately needed with the clock running out. Excellent protection when it mattered let Pat Daley do what he does and stellar work by the backs resulted in the 3-yard rush by Walters for the touchdown. Edinburgh had little time for a response and couldn’t crack the Phoenix D, not converting on 4th down allowing the offence to kneel out the game for the win. Final score 27-20.

A hard fought victory for Tamworth shows that Edinburgh more than belong in this division and they can certainly hold their own amongst the eilte in the league. This win leaves Phoenix joint top of the division with the Merseyside Nighthawks which are the opponent for the ‘Nix next Sunday, and with two close contests between the sides last year it promises to be another cracker of a game.

Don’t miss out on the action as it happens by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Match report by Dan Myatt.

MATCH REPORT: Phoenix 52-0 Lancashire Wolverines

After a long wait and much anticipation Tamworth Phoenix kicked off their 2017 season with an emphatic 52-0 win at home to a Lancashire Wolverines side who are in a rebuilding process after a tough season last year. There have been a few comings and goings at the ‘Nix too, with several of last year’s squad now plying their trade in Europe as well as some new talent aiming to make a name for themselves at the highest level in the UK.

It didn’t take long, on a glorious afternoon for Tamworth to notch up their first points of the year with a delightful pass from QB Pat Daley to #80 Tom Morris in the first play from scrimmage for a 67 yard touchdown.

Tom Morris snagged 2 TDs in his Premiership debut.

Tom Morris snagged 2 TDs in his Premiership debut. Photo courtesy of Nick Mortimer Photos.

Phoenix had the ball back soon after kick off when a poor pass from the Wolverines QB was picked off by LB Andy Mortimer deep in opposition territory,  with such a short field Tamworth doubled their lead in no time with a 5 yard catch by the wide open Marcus ‘Patches’ Boswell.

Lancashire, looking for any way to get a foothold in the game made a nice pass under pressure downfield to put their offence in the Tamworth half of the field for the first time, but they couldn’t make it count as the Nix defence were all over the Wolverines run game and they were forced to punt.

Soon it was 21-0 and three touchdowns in three series for the offence. After some good work by the talented stable of running backs in the Phoenix arsenal it set up for a delightful three passes for a combined 50 yards for the third and very well worked touchdown as James Hossack provided the catch.

The Tamworth defence remained stingy as ever with some nice tackles in the backfield by the linemen and good coverage down field meant the Wolverines had to punt again handing the ball back to the offence for the fourth time in the 1st Quarter. A beautifully lofted 34-yard pass by the very well protected Pat Daley in the pocket, gave Tom Morris his second TD of the game and the Phoenix a commanding lead and it was only the end of the 1st quarter.

Safety Ant Naughton with his 2nd pick of the day.

Safety Ant Naughton with his 2nd pick of the day. Photo courtesy of Nick Mortimer Photos.

The second quarter was filled with both sides exchanging possession before a muffed punt by Lancashire gave Tamworth excellent field position and another touchdown, this time punched in by #30 Sam Lori-Skinn, the two point conversion was good.

Phoenix were unlucky not to get another score before half time with an excellent 54 yard screen pass only matched by an equally good last ditch tackle by the Wolverine defence.

Former London Blitz man Deji Ali bought an unusually quiet period of play to life at the end of the 3rd Quarter with an excellent 55 yard rushing touchdown made possible by some excellent work by the offensive line in setting the edge and blocking downfield. The PAT was blocked making it 42-0.

Some nice work by new QB Oscar Russell and the running backs gave kicker Alex Lenkowski nice position to make his first field goal of the season mid way through the 4th quarter.

Elliot Walters finished off the scoring and brought up the 50 burger with a nice run down the touchline after the offence had been helped down the field by some silly penalties by the frustrated Lancashire defence.

Tamworth travel to Premier Division new boys Edinburgh Wolves next week (Saturday 13th May, 2.30pm kickoff), who promise a tough game after narrowly missing out on beating Scottish powerhouse East Kilbride in their last game.

Don’t miss out on the action as it happens by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Match report by Dan Myatt.