Fresh off some BYE Week banter, The Manchester Crows hosted Darlington, Wigan, and Newcastle, for their final home fixture of the regular season.
Week Seven Review
Manchester Crows 54 – 0 Darlington Steam
The Crows welcomed the up-and-coming Darlington Steam to Manchester with a clinical and often unforgiving performance. Despite showing great promise in early series, Darlington were unable to convert on either of their 2 red-zone opportunities, setting the stage for The Crows first ever BAFA defensive shut-out.
QB Talha Javed put in an monstrous performance on the day, throwing 7 TDs to a plethora of Crows, converting on both 3rd and 4th downs with a calm and surgical precision. Crow WRs were rotated in after the first half, providing some predominantly defensive players the chance to spread their wings.
LBs Rob Connor and Dave Underwood, and Safeties Nick Harris and Talha Javed all got on the stat sheet with an INT each, gift wrapping some short fields for the Offense. It was CB Ron McAleenan that stood out on the day though; juggling his first two INTs of the game before securing his third INT with the clamp-like grip of a wet fish. McAleenan returned his 2nd and 3rd INTs of the day for Pick 6s, though one was later overturned on an offensive pre-snap penalty.
For the second time of the season, a Pick 6 from S Harris’s was overturned on the field due to a post-INT penalty by LB Nigel Li. Theories surround the motivations of Li with some labelling him a double agent, whilst some insist he’s just trying to keep the stats race close.
A young Darlington squad with talent on both sides of the ball showed a lot of potential and class in losing, and should be considered contenders in the 2017 season.
Manchester Crows 46 – 7 Wigan Warhawks
QB Javed threw for an additional 7 TDs against Wigan, in a decidedly chippy game, with 3 scores going to WR Rob Connor, and addition TDs to C. Phil Shanahan and WRs Harris, Durham, and David Skelhorn.
Defensively, WR/LB Craig Armitage recorded his first sack of the season, whilst LB Nigel Li and LB/C. Shanahan also got in on the action. LB Connor recorded an INT and a sack, whilst LB Underwood brought in an INT of his own and harassed the Wigan QB with 3 sacks.
Manchester Crows 25 – 6 Newcastle Blackhawks
Coming into their Week 7 matchup with The Crows, the Newcastle Blackhawks were enjoying the spoils of an unblemished 7-0-0 record. A bungle of missed tackles opened up the scoring as C. Shanahan was able to score on a 1st down catch and run, whilst three more surgical series ended with QB Javed threading needles to WR Connor, WR Wilkinson, and C. Shanahan. Though the game ended The Crows streak of games with 30+ points scored, a win over the previously dominating Blackhawks took centre stage.
Defensively The Crows were able to not let in a single point (the Blackhawks 6 coming off an INT return), keeping the previously dynamic and explosive Blackhawk offense blanketed. INTs from a pair of WRs-turned-Ss Durham and Wilkinson killed any Blackhawk momentum, and proved that Offensive players really do have the best hands.
Week Eight Implications
Week 8 sees The Crows head to Leeds to face the 4-6 Leeds Samurai, the 1-12 Calderdale Knights, and the 3-10 Beeston Bears.
Stay tuned tomorrow for an article looking at four scenarios that could determine The Crows playoff hopes, based on this upcoming weekend’s results.