Coming off the back of a disappointing opening game against the Manchester Titans, the Merseyside Nighthawks headed into Sunday’s fixture hoping for an improved performance. However, they knew they would be up against it, as they hosted the reigning Britbowl champion Tamworth Phoenix.
The Phoenix drew first blood through a touchdown run up the middle but the Nighthawks defence forced them to punt the ball and turn it over on downs during the first quarter to give their offence a chance. The ‘Hawks offence took one of those chances as running back Martin Murphy, who had several powerful rushes on the day, scored a 25 yard touchdown run to make it 7-6 to the Phoenix midway through the first quarter. Unfortunately for Merseyside, Tamworth responded on their very next drive with another touchdown run of their own up the middle and the first quarter ended 14-6 to the visitors.
The Nighthawks will wonder what could have been as on offence they dropped a certain touchdown pass in the endzone, fumbled to give Tamworth a short field and on defence dropped an interception. The Phoenix made no such mistakes and started to pull away in the second quarter with a couple of short passing touchdowns and another couple of rushing touchdowns up the middle, making it 42-6 at halftime.
Tamworth kept up the pressure to start the third quarter, as they surprised Merseyside recovering an onside kick. Although the Nighthawks kept them out on the ensuing possession, the Phoenix offence had the ball back very quickly as their defence came up with an interception which led to a another passing touchdown for Tamworth. They would add another later in the third quarter before Merseyside managed to get another consolation touchdown courtesy of a deep pass from quarterback Ben Robinson that was hauled in by wide receiver Liam Holebrook.
The score was 56-13 heading into the fourth quarter before Tamworth managed to get one more score to make it 63-13. Tempers frayed on both sides late on in the game with several penalties being called and both teams having a player ejected. Nighthawks cornerback Jonny Weekes grabbed a late interception, his second of the season, and the game came to a close soon after. Merseyside, now 0-2 to start a season for the first time since 2012, have a week off before travelling to face the Sheffield Giants (2-2) on Sunday 3rd of June.