Saturday, 17 November 2012

Week 3 BAFA Uni Predictions


Our predictions may have moved, but the interesting picks still remain. Better late than never, our week three predictions find their way onto our blog which means one thing, and one thing only. It's time to sit back, enjoy a nice beverage, and read our writers picks!

Saltire


Edinburgh Napier Knights vs. Glasgow Tigers

After their narrow loss to the UWS Pyros, the Knights found themselves on the wrong end of a 56-0 mauling at the hands of the Stirling Clansmen. Sitting in the penultimate spot in the Saltire conference with an 0-2 ranking, Napier will be hoping their team can pull together and record their first win of the season.
Talk about an up and down start to the season! After their 100 burger mauling against the Clansmen, the Tigers came back to defeat the Edinburgh Predators 21-14 in OT to record their first win of the season. With the confidence from last weekend’s victory now installed in the team, the Tigers should be on for their second win of the season.

This will be a tight one. Tigers by 10.

Edinburgh Predators vs. UWS Pyros

After going 5-3 last season, many people may be surprised by the Predators 0-2 start to the season. Like the two teams on the previous prediction, the Predators have been on the receiving end of a Stirling hammering despite the season only being a few weeks old. If the Predators are going to save their season, they’ll need a big performance this weekend to overcome the uneaten UWS Pyros.

It’s not very often that the Pyros can say they’re undefeated, so we’ll give them their moment in the sun. With one win this season, the Pyros have equalled their total from the previous season, and by the looks of things, could improve on that record. However, we doubt they’ll be leaving Edinburgh with the win this weekend.

Predators to regain their form and win by 21



North Eastern

Leeds Celtics v UH Sharks

Hull are sitting pretty on top of the North East conference after a good win over Bradford last Sunday. Quarterback Seb Gogerly had a great game, running in a score and passing for three more. Rookie wide receiver Michael Adebayo Sonariwo has been a nice addition so far, scoring two touchdowns on his first start last weekend, and the defence has been pretty solid.

They’ll establish themselves as favourites to win the division if they can come away from Yorkshire with a win. The Leeds Celtics lost to Bradford at home in their opener, but secured a win on the road against the wobbling Newcastle Raiders. Leeds don’t give up many points due to their stingy defense, but the gut says the Sharks may still have the weapons to get the win.

Sharks by a score

Newcastle Raiders vs Teesside Cougars

Let’s be honest: If Newcastle can’t get a mark in the win column after this one, they might as well write this year off as a rebuilding season. A lot of people fancied Hull to get a win at home in the opener, and a home loss to a solid Celtics team is disappointing rather than embarrassing. But the Raiders are used to challenging for the playoffs, and that means they’re absolutely going to have to beat teams like Durham and Teesside. And, y’know what, even then they’re going to have to start taking some scalps at the top of that table.

The Teesside Cougars still haven’t played this season, but are widely expected to have a rough season in a tougher division than last year. And remember, they only got the one win in the old Borders division. Newcastle’s playoff chances will probably be judged in other games, but they’ll be completely written off if they can’t win this one.

Newcastle by three scores

Bradford Bears vs York Centurions

Bradford lost to Hull on the road last week, but frankly a lot of teams are going to struggle with Gogerly’s Sharks this season. Bradford are a solid outfit that should be closer to the top than the bottom at season’s end. The Bears were level at halftime against the Sharks, and still kept it reasonably close until the Sharks added a cosmetic late score. And what’s more, 1-1 isn’t a bad return on two away trips to Newcastle and Hull at the start of a season.

York finished 5-3 last year and reported they were returning around 30 players from last season. That’s a plus, but you never really know what you’ve got until it’s taken a few hits from a rushing linebacker. York won the Roses team of the year award last year, so if nothing else it’d be interesting to see how they get on in the new North East division.

Bradford by a touchdown

Durham Saints vs Northumbria Mustangs

Durham were meant to play their first game of the season last week, but the game against Sunderland was called off due to a dispute over pitch markings. That means they start their season here, at home against Northumbria. Honestly, a lot of predictions are probably going to go against Durham this season. They beat the Cougars last season, but they’ve also had bitter experience of blowouts such as last season’s 68-0 drubbing at the hands of the Stirling Clansmen.

Northumbria lost their first game to Sunderland, and won’t be interested in dropping to 0-2. They’re also waiting for their first score of the season. Going out on a limb, I’d say that the only way they don’t get it against Durham is if their bus gets lost on the journey down.

Northumbria by three scores

Leeds Met Carnegie vs Sunderland Spartans

Sunderland have got to be massively disappointed with the fact their game against Durham didn’t go ahead last weekend. If the match hadn’t been kicked in the nuts by a technical dispute, Sunderland would probably be 2-0 right now and bathing in confidence like a rapper in a hot tub full of Champagne. As it is, they’re 1-0 and facing a tough away trip that could potentially introduce some doubts. Al Whitehead had a good game in week one, and he’ll have to rally his team in what will probably be a tricky tie. If they win, they’ll start feeling REALLY good about themselves.

Leeds Met Carnegie actually rose up the Double Coverage Power Rankings this week to 19th. That’s just grand for them, because they still haven’t actually done anything. Now they’ve got to step out on the field and prove themselves. At home, they’ve got a reasonable chance of doing that.

Carnegie in a squeaker

Big North Western


Manchester Tyrants v Sheffield Sabres

When these two teams met last season, the Tyrants came to Sheffield with a thread-bear, 17 man-squad and for three quarters of the game gave the Challenge Trophy champions a real scare, final score (18-2). Both teams have got off to a winning start so something has to give this Sunday in Manchester.

After their Week One clash with the UCLan Rams was called off, the Tyrants got their season off to a winning start last weekend defeating the Huddersfield Hawks 19-8 at Burnage Rugby Club. This Sunday will be a different challenge for HC Hugh English and his men, after facing the Hawks double wing system last Sunday.

Manchester will need big performances from their secondary this week, in particular Safety Ewan Baldwin and Cornerback Greg Cornellison, while QB Chris Payne keeps pace with the Sabres high-scoring offence.
That Sabres offence, led by QB David Saul has another stand-out performance last week, beating the Lancaster Bombers 35-6. Saul finished the day with three rushing touchdowns and a TD pass to James Sharrock. So if Manchester are going to stop the Sabres they will always have to account for the QB. The Sabres defence also spent much of pre-season practicing against a Pistol offence, so should match up well against the Tyrants offence.

In the rampant form they are in, expect Sheffield to come away with the win, but as last year showed you can never write off the Tyrants when they meet the Sabres – Sabres by 20 points

Huddersfield Hawks v Bangor Muddogs

Huddersfield’s start to this season already has had an all too familiar feel about it. With the Hawks’ record currently standing at 0-2 Head Coach Greg Boyland will be keen not to let it slip to last season’s 1-6 record. While Bangor look to start their season at the third time of asking.

The Hawks have already improved from the team that went 1-6 in 2011-12 and the transition to double wing is certainly part of that. RB’s Stephen Ashford and Tom Foulds will need to continue carrying the ball as they have in the opening two games, while LB Josh Wild and Defensive Captain Ayo Oladapo will attempt to shut down the Bangor offence.

Meanwhile, Bangor have struggled with their waterlogged pitch over the last fortnight and even though last week’s fixture against Hallam had been moved to South Yorkshire at the eleventh hour, Bangor were unable to secure transportation to the game. If Double Coverage scouting reports from North Wales are correct, Bangor Rookie of the year Quarterback Ben Archer makes a welcome return again this year under centre and the Muddogs will be looking to surpass last year’s 5-3 record.

It’s a tough game to call when no-one has seen Bangor in action. The Muddogs lost some experienced players at the end of last season, including Tom Jones (no jokes), Andrew Briscoe and LT Charles Holden, while the Hawks have certainly improved and are on the cusp of clicking on offence.

Hawks by 7 points

Liverpool Fury vs. Staffordshire Stallions

The Fury finally get their season underway with a home-tie against the Staffordshire Stallions.
The Fury have been on the receiving end of some stick from us at Dbl Coverage due to their five game season last year, but we’re wiping the plate clean and hoping that the Fury can come through and complete the full schedule of fixtures starting with this game against Staffordshire. An early victory for the Fury would do a ton of good for the team’s confidence as they take on the rest of the Big North Western Conference.

Despite being in a new conference, the Stallions season didn’t get off to the best of starts following a 42-12 loss against the Derby Braves. Nevertheless, the Stallions will be favourites for this one and should be odds on to claim their first win of the season.

We would use last season’s fixture as an indication of how the game will go, but that was called off by the Fury...so we’ll go with Stallions by 17


UCLan Rams v MMU Eagles 

The first of Sunday’s late kick-offs see’s the Rams finally make their BUCS regular season on Sunday at UCLan Sports Arena, after initially setting up last year. Needless to say therefore, it will be the first meeting of these two sides on what looks to be an excellent surface. MMU come into the match off the back of a hard loss against the Derby Braves (58-0), but did start the season with a good win over the Bombers (12-2).

The Rams Head Coach Chris Bradley is a veteran player and coach for the Lancashire Wolverines who are based at Lancashire Academy of American Football and finished second in BAFANL’s Division 1 North in 2012. Inevitably many of the Ram’s players are former Wolverines, including GB Youth TE Sam Bloomfield and Chris Anderson. Other players to watch throughout the season are Brendan Walkin and Sam Drakeford.

Double Coverage scouting reports suggest that the Rams, with many of their experienced players will be a well-drilled and formidable offence, which the Eagles may struggle to cope with.

After their loss to Derby last week new Head Coach Dave Booker will be looking to get the Eagles back to winning ways, which means QB Tom Hargreaves consistently moving the chains from under centre, with the help of his running backs Matt Strukoff and Glenn Herring and the defence, anchored by third year veteran line backer Lewis Potts and LB Kwane Wilson stopping the Rams.

No-one has seen the Ram’s play in a competitive fixture, so far this season, but looking at the experience of a number of players in the squad it looks a high powered offence, MMU traditionally struggle against these types of offences and if the Eagles get involved in a high-scoring shootout they could struggle – Ram’s by 14 points

Derby Braves v Hallam Warriors (KO 5pm)

With Derby moving into the Northern Conference from the MAC last season, this is the first regular season meeting between these two sides in seven years, as last year’s Northern Conference champions take on second place in this year’s conference. Hallam lost 13-0 the last time these sides met.

Derby have already had a strong start to their 2012-13 campaign beating the Stallions (42-12) and the Eagles (58-0). The score lines in both of those games show what a potent offence the Braves have with QB Joe Brammer at the helm and a strong power running game, but they also possess a strong defence, including last week’s defensive MVP Elliot Strong, who recorded three interceptions.

Meanwhile, Hallam finished the 2011-12 regular season as undefeated Champions of the Northern Conference, leading scorers in the league and with running back Danny Pyle rushing for over 2,000
yards. The team has lost some key starters this season, with QB Jacob Muncey, TE Michael Whitson, CB Michael Wood, LB Frazer Musonda and Pyle all graduating.

Under centre for Hallam is Chris Webber, who was a backup quarterback for Sheffield Predators this season, in the backfield second year running backs Sam Adekanmbi and James Musonda return after standout year’s last season. Finally we see the return of Matthew Marsden at Linebacker and Aden Flanagan at safety.

This is another tough fixture to call with Hallam losing many starters over the summer and yet to play this season, they may take a few quarters to get into a rhythm. Derby have shown no mercy so far and may find this is a good time to play the reigning conference champions – Derby by two scores

MAC

DMU Falcons vs Coventry Jets

One of the more eyebrow raising scheduling quirks of the season sees these two facing off for a second game running.

Coventry dominated the score-line in the first meeting, and whilst I don’t think there is a 27 point difference between the quality of these two, the Jets should expect another W over the Falcons here. We can also assume that the intimate knowledge these two now have of each-other to be something a leveller, so I’m banking on a more narrow Coventry victory.

DMU have lost a lot of the core nucleus of talent that founded the club, and it could well be a tough season for the sophomore outfit. Coventry meanwhile look to have a decent enough passing game to win these kind of match-ups, but need to get tougher on defence after NTU sliced them on the ground and in the air on opening weekend.

Coventry by two scores

Lincoln Colonials vs Northampton Nemesis

Both teams enter this one 0-1, but having played vastly different opponents with vastly different outcomes.

Lincoln’s 83-0 drubbing at the hands of Birmingham told us very little we didn’t already know, whereas Northampton’s 2-13 defeat at Warwick is probably a case of two very average teams butting heads. As it is at this stage in the season I’m hard pressed to call a winner, but I’ll give Northampton the benefit of the doubt in what could be an even encounter. Playing Birmingham a week previously will probably have had a more detrimental effect in terms of morale and injuries than Northampton’s loss did.

Northampton by a score


NTU Renegades vs. Leicester Longhorns

Nottingham Trent's Pink Panthers welcome Leicester to the Clifton campus for a game in which they start as heavy favourites.

The Longhorns haven't had it easy early in 2012/13, losing their head coach just hours before their opening game against Loughborough. Predictably, that game didn't end well for Leicester, struggling to muster more than a handful of first downs with the Double Wing offence and consistently leaked points on defence.

NTU made a comfortable start against Coventry, barely reaching top gear despite a shutout victory. Their offence looks set for a breakout game on Sunday, whilst their defence will simply have to keep contain to stifle the one-dimensional Longhorns.

NTU by four scores


SWAC


Cardiff Cobras @ Bristol Barracuda
The Cardiff Cobras will make the trip over the Bristol Channel looking for a repeat of last season’s 46-6 thrashing they inflicted on the Cuda at Llanrumney Fields.
Bristol, coming off a 21-6 defeat of the Worcester Royals, will be looking to build on last week’s performance where they struggled offensively after initially moving the ball well.
The Cardiff Cobra defence, last week recording an interception for a touchdown and recovering a forced fumble, will most likely take advantage of a Cuda offence that in last week’s game was lax with its ball security.
Cobras by at 14.

UWE Bullets @ Exeter Demons
The Demons will be looking to exorcise last week’s 20-15 home defeat against the Cardiff Cobras by rebounding with a win against the UWE Bullets.
The Bullets however, playing their first game since their week 1 34-12 win over Bath Spa, will prove stiff opposition and will most likely be too much of a match for the demons who could struggle to contain the the Bullets
Exeter though will put up a fight and will go right down to the wire having experienced last week’s tough loss which was decided with a failed onside kick for the Demons.
Bullets by 14.

Plymouth Blitz v Bath Spa Bulldogs

After a so-so victory over Gloucester in week 1, Plymouth put in a spirited performance against the Killer Bees last weekend. Whilst the Blitz might be a little disappointed with their first two results, week 3 should be the perfect remedy for their blues.

Bath Spa looked like they were going to continue last year’s big improvements after putting up a couple of scores on UWE in week 1, but followed this up with a dismal 40 point drubbing by Gloucestershire. Are Gloucestershire really that good? Did Bath Spa just have a bad day? Time will tell, but this week I can’t see any result but a Plymouth victory.

Plymouth by 28

Gloucestershire Gladiators v Swansea Titans

Gloucestershire, former perennial whipping boys of the SWAC, are one of the surprise packages of this year. A solid performance against Plymouth followed by a dominant victory over Bath Spa have made the rest of the conference take notice, but can they continue this run of form?

Swansea are the only totally unknown quantity in the SWAC, having not yet played a game. Historically they have fielded solid mid-table teams, without really bothering the playoff teams. Given that this is the kind of region that Gloucestershire seem to be playing themselves into, this should be a cracking game.
This one will be tight, but I give Gloucestershire’s momentum the edge over Swansea’s first game rust.

Gloucestershire by one score

Worcester Royals v Tarannau Aberystwyth

The race between 10th and 11th in the SWAC could potentially be decided as early as week 3, with two teams that finished winless last year battling it out to break their ducks.

Worcester have been totally luckless in their time in the league, but exceeded expectations last week with a 21-6 loss to the Bristol Barracuda. Could this be the game? If Worcester’s first win is going to come this year, you have to fancy it coming either in this game or in their final fixture of the season against Bath Spa.

Tarannau were soundly beaten by the Killer Bees in week 1, but look to have some great potential, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Lessons will have been learnt, and Aber know that this game is a must-win.

Again this will be a close one but I feel like #astormiscoming and Aber will #bebetter than their week 1 showing.

Tarannau by one score

TVC


Surrey Stingers V Solent Redhawks

These teams had polarising results last weekend. Surrey suffered a heavy defeat to Reading whilst the Redhawks won so convincingly that the game had to be called at half time.

That being said, Solent's win came against a rookie programme who only had 14 players kitted up. It's hard to deduce anything from that result, other than Solent are quite clearly better than a depleted Oxford team. 

The Stingers have always been one of the weaker teams in the TVC in recent years and changing that in one off-season would require an incredible effort and an influx of outstanding rookies. I do not believe that to be the case.

Solent to win by 30

BNU V OBU

This is an incredibly tough game to call. OBU came out of nowhere last year, going 7-1 in the process and claiming a championship play-off birth. BNU on the other hand are always a team that opponents dread to play, due to their confusing double-wing offence and pure physicality.

A blowout by either team is hard to envision. If OBU do manage to win by several scores, then we'll know that they are again contenders in the TVC, proving last year wasn't a fluke. BNU's convincing win last weekend shows that they have bounced back from their disappointing loss to Kingston. It will be a tight game and an awfully hard one to predict.

I have a feeling BNU will squeak this one out, but I will not be eating my hat if the result goes the other way. 

BNU to win by 4

Brunel Burners V Portsmouth Destroyers

Portsmouth have had a turbulent time since their championship winning season in 2011. In fact they fell so far from grace, in the perceptions around the TVC that many expected the rookie outfit that is the Kingston Cougars to beat them comfortably last weekend. How wrong we were as Portsmouth came out deserved winners in a tight scoring game.

Brunel are on a course opposite to Portsmouth. From a bottom of the division team, they have overhauled their coaching staff, enabling the athletes we know they have to play to their potential. Although they lost to the reigning TVC Champions last week, that should not change perceptions that they are team on the way up.

This, too, will be a tight game. Even without Russ Hewitt, however, I believe if the Destroyers can contain Modebe, and that's a big if, they will come out of the game 2-0.

Portsmouth to win by 6

RHUL Bears v Kingston Cougars

Holloway lost their first game of the year to a rebuilding BNU team.  The Bears offence disappointingly managed only 47 yards on the day. However their defence stepped up and held the wing to 48 points and even returned a fumble for a TD. They need to focus on discipline though after giving up 115 yards in penalties and getting attention for illegal blocks on Kick Return.


Kingston are turning heads this season.  Most thought their associate year of 5-0 was a flash in the pan.  Wins over teams who were fielding rookies.  They broke that myth in week 1 by beating BNU and last week by losing a tight matchup with Portsmouth.  James Cherry scored their only TD with a halfback pass.  They will need to expand on the promising performances shown so far and put up big numbers against Holloway.

They already share a common opponent and judging by the scorelines in those 2 matches.

Kingston by 50. 


Reading Knights v Southampton Stags

Reading rolled out of bed and into the new season with a nice easy test in the form of Surrey last week.  The Knights new Head Coach Andy Hollands gained a shutout in his first match though he would have hoped to have scored more than 39.  It seems unfair to the rookies to ease them in with the worst team in the conference only to be given the best team a week later.

Southampton cut down the resurgent Brunel Burners last week.  DC's own Dana Neale lead the Southampton onslaught going 10/16, for 165 yards and 3 TDs.  He was only picked off once.  Tristan Demuth was also a standout rushing for 157 yards, 3 TDs and 1 receieving TD from Neale.  We expect bigger numbers this week against a defence that hasnt been tested since it conceeded 48 points in a half last season. 

Southampton by 50.

Oxford Lancers v Brighton Tsunami

This match may not go ahead due to insufficient numbers.  Carl Marshall will be trying to piece together a team after injuries ravaged his already small squad.  They travelled to SOlent last week with only 17 and though they enjoyed themselves they had to throw in the towel at HT and 30-0. 

Brighton having switched to the TVC this year are somewhat of a dark horse.  They were an average SEC team but the general consensous is that the TVC is stronger in depth.  Will they step up or will they flunder down the bottom wishing they could move back to the SEC? They have had an extended preseason and should be very prepared and raring to go come Sunday....... if Oxford turn up.  

Brighton by 21.

SEC

Kent Falcons vs KCL Regents

KCL lost a last minute game to the Chargers, who in turn lost by the narrowest of margins to the Falcons. The midtable battle this year for the SEC will look interesting with so many teams being close in the first 2 weeks of games. Kent certainly put the points up on Greenwich in their other game with 57 on the board, while KCL failed to impress against Imperial with a 10-6 loss. I think the Falcons will take this game as their offence seems to be somewhat more in tune (or Greenwich are just that bad)

Kent by 4

Imperial Immortals vs ARU Rhinos

The sister team of the Rhinos pulled out of competition this past week, perhaps the Rhinos will be rewarded with all of their kit from their SU, which would be a nice addition. Imperial having only played one game and winning by a narrow margin are still somewhat of an unknown entity, but given the experience there is on the squad they should be able to dispatch the Rhinos with relative ease.

Imperial by 28

UEA vs LSBU

LSBU lost this past week to the sophomore Pythons, in a game decided by a safety. UEA managed to over throw the Dragons in their first week game, and did not play in the second week. The Pirates made a good showing in the plate playoffs last year and I think that will carry on to this year. The Spartans on the other hand have lost a core of players and their coaches, however they are bolstered with numerous London Hornets. UEA prove too strong for the Spartans.

UEA by 17


Cambridge Pythons vs. Hertfordshire Hurricanes

Unsurprisingly the Hurricanes have already caused destruction in the SEC with a blow out 53-0 victory over the Essex Blades in their opening game.  The Pythons opened with a hard fought single point victory over the LSBU Spartans. Regardless of how the Pythons performed, to predict this game as anything other than a Hurricanes victory would be folly.

Another 45+ victory for the ‘Canes as they continue their march through the season.

Essex Blades vs. Canterbury Chargers

The 1-1 Chargers are coming off the back of a narrow single point loss to the Kent Falcons who appeared to have regained the composure that deserted them last year with a 57-0 victory over the Greenwich Mariners.  The Chargers have shown the ability to compete with a play-off calibre team and may well challenge the Blades who endured a difficult start to the season against the surging Hurricanes.

Judging the Blades just from a loss to the ‘Canes would be harsh and would likely fail to be representative of the form they could show throughout the rest of the season.  With Championship play-off experience the Blades will still bring the competitive edge that has made them perennial contenders in the SEC.

A Blades victory by 12.

Greenwich Mariners vs. Westminster Dragons

Ouch.  The Greenwich Mariners were once a prominent force within the University leagues but their fall from grace has been swift and sharp, a 57 point loss to the Falcons the most recent of their problems. 

The Westminster Dragons suffered a tough 27-6 loss to the UEA Pirates in their opening game of the ear, yet showed defensive fortitude conceding no points to an offense that was one of the most prolific scorers in the SEC last year.  Despite the pummelling in the second half, the Dragons showed resolve, and their growing competitiveness should lead them to a victory over a Mariners team mired in problems.

Dragons by 20.




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