It’s do or die time for the Vancouver Nighthawks. If they win Saturday night’s home game against Seattle Rainmakers at 7 p.m. at Thunderbird Stadium, they still have a slim chance of making the playoffs. If they lose, there’s always next year.

What the Nighthawks really need is to play to their potential for an entire game, something they have failed to do save perhaps their home win against a shorthanded Portland Stags team earlier this month. In all the other games, including their other win, they have suffered through one stretch of poor play during the game, usually early on. Even in last weekend’s blowout loss in San Francisco, take away the 8-1 run the Dogfish put on the board in the 3rd quarter and you’re left with a close game.

O line stalwart Andy Collins says the team is not going to dwell on what happened in the past.

“Last week is last week and a loss is a loss, whether you lose by 30 points or 1 point. If you are a competitor they all hurt. What I do know about this group is that when our backs are against the wall we perform at our best. Our goal is to compete for the MLU championship and we will battle with everything we’ve got until we either attain that goal or are mathematically eliminated from contention. We know what we have to do this weekend. It starts with playing with the fire Vancouver teams are notorious for.”

“Nobody has seen our best for four quarters so far this season. Yes, Seattle is a great team and they will be ready and prepared, so we will have to compete at a very high level. I expect that this team will be ready mentally to go to battle. Our O line will have to do a better job of moving the disc and our D line will need to be ready to convert on our turns at a higher rate.”

One psychological factor the Nighthawks will have in their favour is the number of times they have beaten Seattle teams in big games at UBC, including the final for the WFDF World Championships in 2008, which included a number of current players from both teams, and a number of showdowns at the annual Flower Bowl tournament.

But that history only takes you so far. Seattle will be determined to clinch a playoff spot. After last week’s win in Portland, where for the first time this season the Rainmakers dominated a second half after their customary strong first halves, they will be feeling very confident.

It certainly won’t help that Nighthawks defensive anchor Morgan Hibbert remains out, possibly for the season, with a broken thumb, but Collins refuses to back down on their chances of winning.

“This group of men have been here before and come through. But it has to happen one step at a time. Our sole focus this week is to beat the Rainmakers and we’ll go on from there.”

“It’s time to protect the nest!”

Buy tickets here for the Saturday night contest.

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