Leicester Falcons narrowly miss place in final


Leicester Falcons’ season came to an end in the Division 1 Northern Final as Manchester Titans edged through a tough physical encounter where the lead changed hands several times.

Leicester began well, holding Manchester to a three-and-out before Taylor Brown broke away for a 61 yard rushing touchdown, his twelfth of the season. The Titans hit straight back however with quarterback Sam Bloomfield finding receiver James Newnes in space for a 30 yard TD pass. As the Falcons drove into the red zone Troy Lee Jackson was hit as he was about to throw and fumbled, but the Titans were unable to capitalise on this and punted away. This time the Falcons got it done, moving the ball well before Tolu Ogundana ran in for the score from 9 yards and a 14-7 lead. Manchester got the ball back and again drove long, but Defensive Coordinator Wayne Gumbs stepped up for his first interception of the year.  The Falcons were forced into a punt on the subsequent drive however and the Titans capitalised on this, again going to the air before finding Ieuan Kinder to tie up the score.  On the ensuing kickoff Falcons return man Jack Verling fumbled which was recovered by the Titans defence, and running back Ryan Newton added a third touchdown just before the halftime whistle for a 21-14 lead.

As the second half began Leicester started brightly, again driving into the red zone but Jackson was intercepted by Titans cornerback James Dean to end the drive. In what was quickly becoming an end-to-end game, Manchester drove long via a pinpoint aerial attack, but as they closed in on the goal line Bloomfield fumbled and Vlad Maximov recovered the ball for the Falcons. As the fourth quarter began Jackson connected with Kyren Watts, who put the moves on his defender for a 40 yard gain, before Ogundana crossed the goalline for his second touchdown of the day and a tied score once again. The Titans recovered and again drove long, Bloomfield finding Newnes in the end zone via a perfectly thrown rainbow pass. The resulting extra point try hit the post to give the Falcons a glimmer of hope as time ran down, but after making it to the 30 yard line inside the final two minutes the Titans defence held and the ball was turned over on downs for the Titans to kneel it out and take the win 27-21.

The result means that the Titans will advance to the Division 1 Championship Game, while the Falcons prepare for another season in division 1. Information about trials for  new players, including at under 19 and under 16 levels, will appear later in the year.

Picture: Wide Receiver Kyren Watts