The Manchester Titans Adult Contact Team hosted the Edinburgh Wolves at Burgage Rugby Club on Sunday, with the Titans looking for revenge following a 34-12 loss in Scotland just 2 weeks earlier.
Edinburgh won the toss and received the opening kickoff and promptly drove down to the Titans 14 yard line. However Manchester’s Defense stiffened and forced an incomplete pass on 4th Down. The Titans Offense started brightly and after a 20 yard run by RB Lawrence Sarpong had taken the ball into Wolves territory, the drive ended when RB Yomi Okuboyejo lost a fumble and Edinburgh recovered. The Wolves took advantage by driving down and kicking a 25 yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The Titans were forced to punt on their next possession and Edinburgh’s offense then went on a 8 play, 75 yard drive resulting in a 28 yard TD pass to take a 9-0 lead. Manchester again failed to pick up a first down and had to punt to end the 1st quarter.
The 7-0 Wolves again drove downfield, culminating in a 3 yard TD run, which along with the XP extended their lead to 16-0. Both teams exchanged possessions without troubling the scoreboard until late in the 2nd Quarter, when starting from their own 17 yard line, the Titans Offense finally found some life. They moved the ball out to midfield when on 3rd Down, QB Alan Mead found WR Ryan Newton behind the Wolves Defense for a 48 yard TD. Former U19 player Ben Nuttall kicked the XP which made the half-time score 16-7.
The 3rd quarter was a largely defensive display with both offences moving the ball but both defences preventing any more points being scored. The stalemate continued until almost the last play of the quarter when the Wolves scored on a 40 yard TD pass. The extra point made the score 23-7.
The 4th quarter begin with a good drive by the Titans, highlighted by a spectacular sideline catch by TE Ste Kimmins. However, the drive stalled a few plays later when Mead’s 4th Down pass was unable to find Kimmins. Edinburgh capitalise by driving 55 yards to score on a 6 yard pass. The successful kick extending their lead to 30-7.
However, thanks to a vintage display by the Titans QB, Manchester got themselves back into the game quickly. With Mead finding WR James Newnes and George Slade for substantial gains, they moved the ball downfield, with Slade catching a 6 yard TD pass. Mead ran in the 2PAT, making the score 30-15.
Then big stops by Titans DB James Dean and DE Matt McCormack forced a Wolves punt which Newnes returned 24 yards to the Edinburgh 21. A 12 yard run by Sarpong, who finished on 86 yards rushing for the day, set up Mead’s 3rd TD pass – a 7 yarder to Newton. Kimmins added the 2PAT leaving the Titans down by just 7 points – 30-23.
Manchester then attempted an onside kick which the Wolves recovered allowing them to run out the clock and preserve their undefeated season.
For the Titans, the Newton Brothers led the offensive and defensive stats respectively with Ryan making 9 catches for 131 yards and 2 TDs, whilst Adam had 7 solo tackles and 6 assists.
Manchester now face two away trips to end the season, firstly to West Coast Trojans on Sunday 3rd July, then to Gateshead Senators on Sunday 10th July. With victories in both games, the Titans should guarantee a trip to the playoffs, which would be considered a successful debut season in Division 1.