The Merseyside Nighthawks faced the Edinburgh Wolves on Sunday in the first of three home games the ‘Hawks have remaining to close out their 2018 season. Both sides had plenty to play for as a win for Merseyside would guarantee their Premier North status for 2019, whilst a win for Edinburgh would keep them in the running for playoff football. While the first meeting between the two teams up in Scotland ran out as a convincing win for the Wolves, this past weekend’s game turned out to be a much closer affair.
It was Edinburgh who got on the board first as they took a 7-0 lead following a short touchdown run on their first possession of the game. Merseyside managed to get deep into Edinburgh territory on their first possession but couldn’t convert on a field goal attempt before both defences began to take over, in what ended up being a relatively low scoring contest. The Wolves took their 7-0 lead into the second quarter before the Nighthawks managed to breakthrough, as quarterback Ben Robinson scored the first Merseyside touchdown of the game on a short run play to tie the game at 7-7. Edinburgh were able to move the ball close enough to the Merseyside endzone to attempt a field goal which they converted to retake the lead before halftime making it 10-7 to the visitors.
The Nighthawks defence, buoyed by one of their best performances of 2018 in their previous fixture, really tightened things up in the second half of the game and held the Wolves at bay to give their offence chances to get more points on the board. Robinson obliged partway through the third quarter as he scored on another touchdown run to give Merseyside their first lead of the day at 14-10. Edinburgh forced a turnover at the end of the third quarter to help out their offence but the ‘Hawks defence would not be breached, causing the Wolves to turn the ball over on downs several times. Merseyside had the chance to extend their lead with a field goal attempt but again were unable to convert which meant a nervous final few minutes as they looked to hold onto their lead.
Merseyside looked to have won the game as Edinburgh were looking for the winning touchdown as Harry Routledge, playing safety, grabbed an interception that would have allowed the Nighthawks offence to kneel out the game. The play was scrubbed off however due to a penalty and two plays later the Wolves looked to connect deep again but for outstanding coverage by cornerback Jonny Weeks to snagged an athletic one handed interception to end the game 14-10 to Merseyside. The Nighthawks (now 3-5) play their penultimate game of the season next weekend, hoping to take their third win in a row as they take on the East Kilbride Pirates (0-8).