The Manchester Titans clinched promotion to the Premier Division on Sunday with a nail-biting 27-21 victory over the Leicester Falcons. Travelling to Leicester as the perceived underdogs, the Titans performed in all three phases once again to come away with the crucial victory.
The Leicester Falcons put the pressure on the Titans straight away. After Manchester punted on their first drive, Leicester’s Taylor Brown weaved his way through the Titans defense for a long opening score. But Manchester responded right back, with the always-reliable combination of Sam Bloomfield to James Newnes coming up trumps once again, for the 14th time this season.
Manchester’s 7-6 carried over into the second quarter until the Falcons struck back with their second rushing touchdown of the day. With a six point lead, Leicester began driving once again, until Charlie Dixon forced a Falcons fumble, with Adam Newton emerging with the ball.
The Titans offense put the Falcons to the sword, with Bloomfield finding Luc Kinder for the short yardage touchdown for the lead. Under Special Teams Coordinator David Stretch, the Titans have developed a knack for game changing plays. With the score at 14-13, the Titans forced a fumble to put its offense in a great position to extend their newfound lead.
And that’s exactly what happened. With the clock ticking down towards the end of the half, the Titans stay composed, and Ryan Newton found his way into the end zone for the fifth consecutive game. Manchester’s late second quarter scoring flurry gave the visitors a 21-13 lead going into the break, with the game perfectly set for a tense second half for both sides.
Coming out of the break, it was the Titans who looked to be still in the driver’s seat. Leicester drove down the field on their opening drive, only to put the ball into the waiting arms of James Dean, whose interception stalled an early Leicester come back.
But the game hung delicately in the balance, as the score remained the same throughout the third quarter of the game. Leicester finally punished Manchester’s inability to kill the game off, as they fought their way back into the game with a fourth quarter touchdown. The two-point conversion was good, tying up the game at 21-21 with eight minutes left in the game.
With momentum completely with the Falcons, Manchester faced a tough 3rd and 17 in their own territory. With the game practically on the line, Bloomfield found Kinder to move the chains to keep the Titans drive alive and spread belief through the Manchester sideline.
Manchester’s newfound belief was rewarded, as Bloomfield lofted the ball into the back corner of the end zone to find a toe-tapping James Newnes for the go ahead score. Sitting on a 27-21 lead, there was still time for the Falcons to drive into position for a game winning score. But on a crucial 4th and 2, the Falcons misfired, and the Manchester Titans were left only needing three kneel downs to seal victory and promotion to the 2017 Premiership North.
Scenes of pure emotions and joy erupted upon the final whistle, with the Titans storming the field in celebration after accomplishing the goal the Titans had set at the very start of the year.
The win sees the Titans progress to #Britbowl31 in two weeks time, where they will face Division One South champions, the London Olympians, for the right to be crowned Division One National Champions.