This weekend sees a crucial battle in Manchester, and the Nighthawks and Titans go head to head in a game that could give either team a leading edge in the race for play off football.
Riding high on the crest of last weekend’s big win over Tamworth, Manchester’s much vaunted defence heads into this Sunday’s fixture hoping to right the wrongs they made in their recent trip to JMO Sports Park, where the Nighthawks came out as 50-33 winners. Even Manchester QB Sam Bloomfield suggested in a recent podcast that that scoreline didn’t really represent how dominant Merseyside were in the game, and the Titans will be leaning heavily on Bloomfield to right the ship. Bloomfield threw 3 first half interceptions to give the Hawks a crucial field position, often in the Titans half, and if Manchester are to come out of Sunday’s fixture on top of the Premier North, Bloomfield cannot make the same mistakes.
Merseyside also come into the game on the back of a shutout win, following last weekend’s 20-0 victory over the Sheffield Giants. Despite propping up the table, the Giants have given most teams a real scare this season, and the Nighthawks were not immune to this. The Hawks will be leaning on returning LB Will Mckeown and defensive standouts Mike Bassey and Jonny Weekes to shut down an efficient, well drilled Manchester offence.
For either team to come out of Sunday’s game with a victory, both will have to be smart with the ball and the last possession of the game may tip the scales one way or another, highlighted by last year’s victory at JMO, where the Nighthawks won the game with the last play of the game. Whoever wins on Sunday is likely to have half a foot in the play offs, although Tamworth will still have a big say in that.
Players to watch
OL/DL – Michael Mcgougan – Big Mike has been playing both ways recently and is a menace, be it on the Offensive Line or Defensive Line. Look for the Titans to lean on #77 to shut down the Nighthawks Offence and to bully the DL too.
QB – Sam Bloomfield – #21 has an unorthodox throwing action, but that does not render it unusable. Makes short gains and big plays just as easily as each other and the key to shutting him down is pressure.