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Phoenix @ Nighthawks : Preview

The Nighthawks return to action this weekend, with their last home game of the regular season. And what better way to round the season off, than a mouth watering clash with Tamworth Phoenix, perennial Prem North champions and Britbowl winners in 2017.

In the reverse fixture at Tamworth earlier this year, the Phoenix came out on top, beating Merseyside by 34-6. Whilst not as convincing as previous years, Tamworth were worthy winners back in May, scoring the majority of their points in the second quarter. The Nighthawks will be looking to shore up their defence on Sunday, whilst letting their dynamic offence go to work.

Tamworth also come into the game in an unfamiliar situation; with a loss in their column for the first time in almost 4 years. You have to go all the way back to 1st August 2015 to see their last regular season defeat, a 21-14 reverse against former Prem North stalwarts, the East Kilbride Pirates. This season’s sole loss, a 21-0 reverse at home against Manchester Titans, blew open the race for the Prem North and certainly makes the run in exciting at both ends of the table, with all 6 teams having something to play for. Tamworth’s defence has been as ferocious as ever though, conceding only 61 points all year, including 3 complete shut outs so far this year.

The Nighthawks come into the game on the back of their most emphatic victory of the year, following a 50-0 home win over the Leicester Falcons. Running backs tandem Laurent Tshimanga and Martin Murphy both got on the scoreboard against the Falcons, with Ben Robinson also adding to his tally for the year with a pair of TDs. The Nighthawks will likely lean on these players to ground and pound the Phoenix defence early in the game.

Knowing what is at stake, both teams will come into this game feeling optimistic about their chances of winning. Tamworth hold the upper hand in head to heads so far this year, after the 34-6 win, so the Nighthawks will have to be on their A game on both sides of the ball to negate that. Expect fireworks from both teams as they play for post season football!

Players To Watch

Elliot Walters – Running Back – Elliot is a small back, but has incredible speed, and is able to make space where it doesn’t usually exist. The mercurial thorn in our side for the last 4 seasons, we will need to shut Elliot down to prevent him from building up his speed down the sideline

James Hossack – Wide Receiver – ‘Hoss’ showed his GB Lions calibre earlier on in the year with a two touchdown performance in the Phoenix’s 34-6 win against the Nighthawks. Able to get into space quickly, and with expert hands, it will be important that our DBs are on guard on Sunday

Daniel Opidohs – DE/LB – Daniel has been a constant threat to the Nighthawks offensive unit over the past few years, terrorising the backfield and backing up his trash talk with smart play. The key to slowing down the Tamworth defence is slowing down #52.

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