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.
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Match report by Dan Myatt.