Currently in second place in the MEC Central Division with a record of 4-2-0, The Crows will need to turn up the volume in the face of tough competition this week.
Week 3 – Conference Games
Sunday 21st May
As previously warned the loss to the Manchester Titans in the divisional games has put The Crows on notice; chase the number 1 seed and win by all means necessary.
SHEFFIELD VIPERS 3-2-0
(2016 record: 10-5-1)
In the immortal words of Crows enthusiast Indiana Jones; “snakes, why’d it have to be snakes?”.
The Crows and Vipers have a long history of competition, one full of storied battles, of highs and lows, and that time in 2016 when the game ended in a draw, 32-32.
The Vipers have started 3-2-0 against tough competition in 2017, setting themselves up for a great 2nd half of the season. With changes at key positions the Vipers remain somewhat of a puzzle in the MEC – will Crows QB Talha Javed be forced to best the 5 touchdowns he threw in the meetup last year? He may have to if 2017’s game follows the same script: points, points, points. Interestingly this matchup in 2016 was the only game all season in which the Ron Burgun-D failed to register a single defensive statistic.
The Crows will look to their offensive mismatches to beat what has historically been a very stout and adaptable Vipers defense. Shutting down pass catcher Luke Bennett and keeping QB Keith Woodley contained in the pocket will be key to slowing the Viper attack.
This game will be the pace setter for the day; defend the Nest and win at all cost.
LEEDS SAMURAI 3-3-0
(2016 record: 6-10-0)
The Crows’ preseason foes Leeds Samurai are next up on the day. Boasting an experienced QB in Kyle Taylor and benefiting from an offseason injection of GB talent onto the squad, the .500 outfit are not to be taken lightly at all. Though Leeds have been unlucky with results so far in the 2017 season, they remain in 2nd place in the MEC North having put up a commanding 133 offensive points. Talha threw an impressive 8 TDs in the 2016 matchup on the way to a 49-7 victory, one punctuated by a staggering 7 INTs from the Crows D.
The 2017 matchup promises to be a much different affair, with defense once again likely to be the deciding factor.
MANSFIELD HONEY BADGERS 2-3-0
(2016 record: 11-4-0)
Owners of an inauspicious start, the .400 Honey Badgers provide perhaps the toughest offensive test on the day. Recipients of a drumming by the Sheffield Vipers in the season opener, the Purple Kings have bounced back well coming within a point of the Sheffield Giants and vanquishing their neighbouring Nottingham Bears.
Talha threw 11 TDs over the 2 Mansfield contests in 2016, a series that saw The Crows lose 30-34, and win 31-19. The win in 2016 was home to the now infamous “Nick Six” – a intercepted score called back due to the most injudicious downfield block by then-rookie Nigel Li.
The Crows and Badgers battled it out in 2016 for the last remaining MEC playoff spot (a spot that went to The Crows) – and though 2017 sees them now in different divisions, a win here will do wonders for both teams’ playoff hopes.
In a game certain to be decided by the smallest of margins – execution in all areas of the game will be paramount. Win and The Crows take the title of “Swaggiest MEC Team”, as well as the much coveted points.
The Crows, healthy and getting some weapons back, will be playing for it all in Week 3, as they head into the 2nd half of the 2017 season. With Division leaders Manchester Titans suiting up against the Sheffield Giants, Calderdale Knights, and Nottingham Bears this weekend, The Crows will need to come out of Week 3 with a 2-1 record at minimum.
It’s time to earn those colours.