Shamed hosts The Doncaster Mustangs hosted Week 4 of the BAFA Season, which pitted The Crows against their derby rivals the Manchester Titans, and gave them a chance to exact some revenge on the playoff contending Mansfield Honey Badgers.
Week 4 Review
Manchester Crows 32 – 7 Manchester Titans
The Crows had the Titan’s number from the opening whistle, scoring on both of their opening drives and recording two interceptions on defence. The game remained one sided until the 2nd half, when Titans QB Alan Mead found sometime Titans QB sometime Titans C Nick-Nige Weston for the team’s only score. QB Talha Javed threw a total of 4 touchdowns in the game, targeting WR Craig Armitage, WR Matt Wilkinson and gifting a pair to C Phil Shanahan. The Crow defence, referred to affectionately as ‘The Ron Burgun-D’, recorded an impressive stat line against a myriad of Titan QBs; finishing the day with 7 interceptions, 1 pick six, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for a loss. The Crows next face The Titans June 18th in Crewe.
Manchester Crows 31 – 19 Mansfield Honey Badgers
With the Week 3 defeat fresh in their minds, The Crows jumped the gate on the Badgers building a three TD lead before the Badgers could get on the scoreboard. A pick six from CB Nick Harris was downgraded to an interception after a downfield blocking penalty allowed Mansfield to momentarily escape an insurmountable Crows lead. Whilst the second half Badgers employed a more gimmick-based offence, they could not keep pace with QB Javed, who continuously punished the blitzing Badgers with pinpoint accuracy. The Crow defence provided enough stops to quell any hopes of a comeback, whilst big gains from WR Matt Wilkinson allowed the offence to take the game away from the Badgers.
Week 5 Preview
Woodham Warriors 6 – 3 – 0 Though the Woodham Warriors were the first team to ever beat The Crows, the DNA of Woodham has been the talk of the 2016 season so far. With question marks on both sides of the ball and a scaled down roster, the team looks very different to the MEC Conference winning squad of 2015. Already posting two losses to the Newcastle Blackhawks and one to the Sheffield Vipers. The Crows will look to build on the momentum provided by the win over the Honey Badgers, and push the Warriors to the edge in search of another victory.
[editor’s note: Due to unforeseen circumstances the Woodham Warriors have retired from the 2016 BAFA league)
Sheffield Vipers 4 – 2 – 0
The Crows face their oldest rivals and cross-divisional friends in the Sheffield Vipers in Week 5. The last time the two faced off (in friendly competition) The Crows were able to edge out the win with some big splash plays by WR Matt Wilkinson. To further compound the rivalry’s vitriol, Vipers Defensive Coordinator Ash Thackery spent the game wearing the Black n’ Gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers, after losing an NFL bet to Crows GM Phil Shanahan. The next chapter of the epic Crows/Vipers story figures to ramp up the volume again – look out for some social media digs over the coming days.
Beeston Bears 2 – 4 – 0
A record of 2-4-0 does not accurately portray the 2016 Beeston Bears season. A competitively boisterous victory over the Cheshire Cavaliers and a forfeit win to Doncaster see the Bears match their win record of 2015 with plenty of football left to play, whilst scores in losing efforts to the Sheffield Predators, Manchester Titans, and Mansfield Honey Badgers (x2) show a team constantly improving. The Bears were forced to retool following the 2015 season, a season in which they faced and lost to The Crows twice, after losing players to their rival Honey Badgers. Combatting this was the addition of star WR Paul Tegue from the Leicester Eagles, whose chemistry with QB Gareth Lucyszyn has been making league DBs take note. Whilst Tegue will miss this weekend’s matchups, WRs Greg Hollin and John Holmes make their respective returns to the squad – both will look to bolster the Beeston aerial attack.
The Crows can take another step toward the 2016 playoffs with a victory here.