The Manchester Crows are in the PLAYOFFS! With a record of 11-2-1 The Crows qualify for the MEC playoffs, currently in the 3rd seed due to their percentage win difference over the Mansfield Honey Badgers. With 2 more games to go in the season, we now look back at the reports from this past weekend’s 3 matchups.
Manchester Crows 49 – 7 Leeds Samurai
An embattled Samurai squad took the lead against The Crows early in the game, enjoying a 7-6 lead that lasted for a few minutes/till Manchester’s following possession. QB Talha Javed experienced no issues in slashing his way through the shogun stopgaps, punishing the field with a fatal mix of long completitions and intermediary passing. Touchdowns were peppered to C Phil Shanahan, WRs Rob Connor and Dave Underwood, with a further pair going to WR James Durham. A deadly trio of TDs were caught in the ever growing wingspan of WR Dave Skelhorn, resulting in a total of 49 offensive points for the team – a threshold which proved to be too much for the Samurai to answer.
Defensively The Crows were able to avenge the early TD, with a 35 minute shutout to close the game; employing a number of swift and momentum-changing parries. A total of 7 interceptions were plucked from the Samurai, with Safeties Nick Harris, James Durham, Matt Wilkinson and Rob Connor getting on the stat sheet. The CB/LBs got in on the action too, as rookie LB Nigel Li recorded an INT and a sack, with CB Underwood getting two INTs and a sack himself. All Manchester LBs were able to pressure the Leeds QB consistently, assisting the defensive stops and turnovers.
There has been no word on whether or not the dishonoured Samurai committed ‘seppuku’ post game.
Manchester Crows 65 – 0 Beeston Bears
The Crows faced off against familiar foes the Beeston Bears in a competitive matchup (despite it looking one sided on paper), which ultimately resulted in their second defensive shutout in as many weeks.
QB Tal threw for a season high and franchise record tying 10 TDs in the game. The name of the game was doubles, as Tal hammered two scores a piece into WRs Connor, Durham, and Ronan McAleenan, with singles going to WRs Skelhorn and Wilkinson, and C Jake Blair. A particularly tasty TD to C Shanahan came as a measure of revenge for Tal, as he squeezed a TD just over the fingertips of a Beeston player who had, in the previous matchup, beaten him on the same route.
A pair of picks from SS Connor and CB Wilkinson were able to seal the deal defensively.
Manchester Crows 45 – 14 Calderdale Knights
The semi-final of the 2016 ‘Winter Bowl’ tournament (in which the referee admittedly mistook the goaline for the 5 yard line, giving the Knights the win) was fresh in The Crows minds as they took the field against Calderdale, for a game that saw the Ron Burgun-D come perilously close to outscoring the Maroon Five.
QB Tal was able to right the ship as the game wore on, capitalising on defensive stops with TDs to WRs Connor and Skelhorn. Acting as a talisman for a tiring squad, Tal marched his receivers down the field at an almost perilous pace again and again, till the uncharacteristically hot Leeds sun had drained the Calderdale defenders. WR James Durham found the endzone 3 more times in the game, using his height and strength advantage to catch contestable balls against the Knight defenders.
The aforementioned defensive scores came from CBs McAleenan and Wilkinson, who ended 2 of the 3 opening Knights drives with pick sixes. SS Connor ended the day with a further two INTs, whilst SS Harris recorded one his own that came inches of becoming a pick 6 – a change to his usual get-a-pick-6-have-it-overturned style of play.
Week 9 Implications
The Crows can lock up the 3rd seed with 1 win next week, though 0 wins will still see them through to the playoffs. Opponents are the currently undefeated Sheffield Predators, who beat The Crows by 1 point back in Week 2 and have since vanquished all challengers. The Crows will end their season in tradition, as they face derby rivals Manchester Titans in the final game – the last result swung in The Crows favour 32 – 7.