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.
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.
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.
Match report by Dan Myatt.