Titans Miss out on Final
After the emotional roller coaster that was the Quarter-finals the Titans were hoping for a straight forward Semi-final. Up against the Hertfordshire Hurricanes a team the Titans had already beaten this season the Titans felt it was their game to lose.
On home turf and with the momentum of the previous game the Titans were in high spirits to start with the Titans defence getting off to a great start, the Mountain Filip Stepanovski killing their inside run and Linebacker Tom Pennington preventing the QB scramble to force an early Hertfordshire Punt.
On came the offence, notably with three rookie receivers one of who was Alex Wilson getting his first start for the Titans. The Offence straight away handed the ball to in form RB Luke Patmore who strolled for a nice 15 yard inside run after the Offence line in particular Hussain Kahn and Ed Welch parted the Hurricanes defence like Moses parting the Red sea. This instant first down couldn't be followed up as the Titans offence then stalled after QB Elliot Bodman was tackled at the line and then his throw to Wilson was batted down by Herts.
Once again, the Defence shut out the Herts attack, firstly a couple of tackles by who other than Gethyn Chadwick to stop their run game and then a great tackle by receiver and stand in corner back Dan Marshall to prevent the first down. A completed pass by Herts gave them some life but more tackles by Todun Soetan and Gethyn forced a long pass attempted that was almost picked off by safety Ben Cooze.
Some misplaced throws on offence caused another punt, this was the beginning of a very bad half for the Titans offence, something that would ultimately cost them in the end. Herts offence then opened the score, after a long line of yard gaining plays and then penalties the Herts offence moved in and out of the redzone until a lofted ball was caught by the Herts receiver putting up the first score of the game. 7-0 to Herts.
A fumbled Kick-off return by Peter Doyle left the Titans offence in bad starting position. A pass interference call against Herts moved the Titans chains but a few dropped catches and penalties against the Offensive line forced the punt unit back onto the field. A few good tackles by Pennington and Harry Calton as well as a near interception by Ben Cooper once again shut down the Hurricane Offence but a fumbled punt at the end of the Titans next drive left Hertfordshire inside the Swansea 10-yard line. They instantly took charge with an outside run barreling through the Swansea line putting the score to 14-0. The Titans looked to rally and what looked like a brilliant run from RB Todun Soetan in the wet conditions was fumbled giving Herts another shot at a score right before the half.
The weather was now making it very difficult to hold onto the ball and what was looking destined to be another scoring Hertfordshire drive ended with a forced fumble and recovery by Gethyn Chadwick. The score at the half 14-0 to Hertfordshire.
The Swansea offence continued to fall short of expectations with more dropped catches in the wet conditions. The Swansea Defence on the other hand started brightly another forced fumble this time by Dan Marshall recovered by Tom Pennington. Once again the offence was forced to punt. The Hurricanes then scored for a third time this one coming from a screen play that saw their receiver break tackles and run about 40 yards up the sideline to score. 20-0. Not long after Hertfordshire were knocking on the door again, after some big tackles by Piers Jensen, Peter Doyle and Ben Cooper as well as some great coverage by Harry Calton looked like they would keep them out the Herts QB hit his receiver on a quick slant and put the score to 27-0.
The Titans looked dead and gone but when most would have expected this game to end with the Titans limping out of the playoffs they almost pulled off an amazing comeback. Some great outside running by QB Bodman started moving the chains and then it happened rookie running back Todun Soetan broke through, after a great push upfront by Olliver Vacy-Ash, Hussain Kahn and Gethyn Chadwick standing in at tight end, to run the ball home for the touchdown, his first touchdown since his opening drive against Hertfordshire on the opening game of the season. 27-6.
The Titans defence did their thing with Stepanovski and Ike Amuze tackling for a loss. It was also good to see defensive lineman Macarius Howard step onto the field since tearing ligaments in his knee back in November at Xplosion. Another fumble by the Hurricanes put the Titans on their goal line, with the fourth quarter beckoning it would put the Titans in a good fighting position to achieve the comeback, but some strong Hurricanes defence prevented the score.
An interception by Dan Marshall put the Titans offence back onto the field with much of the fourth still to play. A lofted ball by Bodman to the man of all positions Gethyn Chadwick put the Titans back on the 1-yard line. What then preceded was the most bizarre few minutes of football I have ever seen. The Titans three times in a row put the ball into the endzone only for an offsetting pass interference call and a blocking down field by a receiver call to rule them both out. Thankfully the third time it stood, and the slant caught by Dan Marshall put the Titans back into the game. two point caught by Alex Wilson. 27-14.
The onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, but the Swansea defence quickly shut down the Hurricanes and got the offence the ball back. The rejuvenated offence drove up the field, more outside runs from Bodman putting them back into the redzone. This time the touchdown was caught by Gethyn Chadwick an amazing grab in the center of the field. the two points once again caught by Wilson. Making the score 27-22 with just over a minute on the clock.
The onside kick was the Titans only hope as a recover would allow the Hurricanes to kneel their way to the final. Unfortunately, unlike two weeks ago against Durham there was no act of god able to save the Titans and the onside kick was once again in the hands of Hertfordshire. The Titans were out of time.
It was not the way they wanted the season to end but considering the gulf in funding and facility access that the Titans face compared to their premiership counter parts along with the fact that they lost their star QB half way through the season they were able to achieve a massive amount this season. The Titans can proudly call themselves a top 4 team. This season has been filled with ups and down, but it was a season that saw the Titans win in front of a huge Xplosion audience in Birmingham to become only the second team to do so as well as beat the National Champions in a home playoff game.
The Titans have come a long way in the 10 years since their founding growing from a drinking team with a football problem to a respected premiership outfit that hopefully in the not too distant future can go all the way and get themselves that National Championship.
The Titans final game of the year is the Welsh Varsity against their old rivals the Cardiff Cobras with the Titans looking to better their previous victory of 42-2.
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