Opal Series 2016 – Round 1

§After a disappointing Opal Series in 2015, the Titans Women team traveled to Sheffield to take part in the first tournament of 2016 looking to prove a point. A different approach has been taken by the Titans for this years tournament, in order to aid progression in the Sapphire series, the Offensive and Defensive line have forgone flag training to focus on contact training while the rest of the squad trains flag. This gesture will pay off when the team enters the contact season.

The first game was against the Sandwell Steelers and it took just one play for the Titans to get started, our new Quaterback Sarah Ul-Haq who has joined from Canada passed to Sian Perry at WR who took the ball all the way to pay dirt for the first score of the season. Ul-Haq then found Karis Smith for the extra point.

Tackles by Elouise Walsh, Sarah Webster and Emma McDermott ensured Sandwell couldn’t move the football and the Titans Offense took over. A longer drive finished the same with another Ul-Haq pass to Perry for a TD and it took just two plays for the lead to extend further. 2016 Player of the Year Roz Breaks with an interception on Sandwell’s next play and RB Karis Smith ran the first play home from 20 yards out and the Titans led 20-0.

The Titans rotated their receivers for the next drive, this time Ul-Haq found Keely Edmonds, Vicky Evans and Mo Jessop before finishing the drive with a pass to Becky Bingle for the TD. Tackles from Louise Fitzsimmons and Ellie Partington halted the next Sandwell drive before the Titans extended their lead, this time Ul-Haq found Elliot in the endzone before Jessop caught the extra point for a 32-0 half time lead.

The second half brought more of the same, another interception by Breaks got the Offense onto the field, this time led by 17 year old rookie QB Nikita Walker, she drove the team downfield before finding Elliot in the endzone for the TD. The Titans defense remained unbeatable in the second half with Charlie Novak and Becky Lord-Navin making tackles to ensure the shutout. There was time at the end for Walker to find Perry for her 3rd touchdown of the game to make the final score 44-0.

The second game of the day was against Coventry Cougars Youth, with the main Coventry team being 3 time National Champions this was going to be a competitive game. Coventry started on offense and took 7 plays to score, a 4th down pass into the endzone which would be the story of the game for Coventry. The Titans hit straight back, Ul-Haq passing to Perry to move the chains before finding Smith in the endzone to level the game.

Another 7 play drive score Coventry re-take the lead, tackles by Walsh, Breaks and Partington has brought up 4th down but Coventry managed to get the first down and went on to score. The Titans O tried to hit back, passes to Perry and Evans moved them downfield and on 4th and 4 a pass to Elliot looked to have scored only to be ruled just short.

Tackles from Fitzsimmons and Webster brought up another 4th and 17 for Coventry but again they converted, making the most of it to extend their lead to two scores. Looking to make amends Ul-Haq passed to Elliot, Smith and Evans before finding Perry in the endzone for the TD and then Edmonds for the extra point making the half time score 19-14 to Coventry.

Starting with the ball the Titans took the lead, Ul-Haq found Perry for a big gain and then Edmonds before another TD for Smith. Vicky Evans made the catch on the XP and the Titans led for the first time in the game. The Titans D were able to make a stop, after another 4th down conversion a sack from Walsh eventually turned the ball over. Unfortunately the Titans threw a pick on the next play and Coventry took advantage, starting on the 5 yard line it took them 4 plays before a 4th down score gave them the lead once again.

The lead swapped hands twice more, first the Titans took the lead as Ul-Haq found Smith on a 43 yard TD. Coventry stuck back, a 5 play drive gave them a slender 32-27 lead with under two minutes remaining. The Titans came back, a 4th down pass from Ul-Haq to Evans kept the game alive and as time expired another pass to Evans looked to have given the Titans the victory only for the tackle to be made inside the 1 yard line again.

After a tough loss, the Titans had the chance to bounce back against local friends and rivals the Chorley Buccaneers, with several members of the Chorley squad appearing in the Titans contact team it was a hard fought affair.

Nikita Walker started at QB and she found Perry and Elliot to move downfield before finding Jessop for the TD. Tackles from Webster, McDermott and Novak made sure Chorley couldn’t move the football but an interception on the next Titans drive gave them good field position and they duly leveled the match.

Despite completions to Elliot the Titans couldn’t get a first down on their next possession but the defense stepped up with Breaks, Lord-Navin and Webster making tackles to keep the game level. Walker found Edmonds before a run from Bingle moved the ball. Walker then hit Elliot for a 42 yard TD and followed up with the extra point to Edmonds to give the Titans the lead.

Leading 13-6 at half time the Titans pulled away in the second half. 3 tackles from Partington stopped Chorley’s first drive and it took just three plays for the Titans to score. Ul-Haq in at QB found Perry for a 41 yard score and then Evans for the XP. Chorley would not go quietly though, a 4th down conversation moved the chains and they capped an 8 play drive with their second score of the game. This would be their final score as Webster, Walsh and Partington shut down their final drives.

The Titans were able to add two further TDs, Ul-Haq found the elusive Perry again for a 38 yard score before capping an 8 play drive to find Smith from close range making the final score Titans 34-12 Chorley.

A 2-1 record on the day puts the Titans in 3rd place in the Northern Division with the next games on Saturday 5th November. 105 points total offense and a shut-out from the defense marked a strong return to action for our Women’s team.

STATS – All 3 Games

Ul-Haq 39/56 544 Yards 11TD 1 INT + 7XP
Walker 17/25 194 Yards 4TD 1 INT +2XP

Smith 9-46 Long 20 1TD
Bingle 3-21 Long 11
Edmonds 3-15 Long 8

Perry 20-355 Long 41 6TD + 1XP
Elliot 13-136 Long 42 3TD
Smith 6-96 Long 43 4TD + 2XP
Evans 9-86 Long 14 + 3XP
Edmonds 5-47 Long 23 +2XP
Jessop 2-17 Long 14 1TD 1XP
Bingle 1-2 Long 2 1TD

Webster 17(3)
Breakd 14(2) 2 INT
Walsh 14(2) 2 Sack 3 TFL
Partington 13
McDermott 10(2)
Lord 6(3)
Fitzsimmons 5(1)
Novak 3(1)