Saturday, 17 November 2012

Willy Tee Week 3 Predictions

Argh! You guys are making this tough for me this year!! 

As conferences are getting more competitive, and offseason losses have their inevitable effect: I’ll admit, I’m starting to look pretty sloppy in terms of prediction accuracy. 

Still, when it comes down to it, we really should be consider it a GOOD thing that only a few match ups every week are the 50+ - 0 blowouts that have apparently become an intrinsic component of this single-tier structure, and that more and more often we’re finding young programs able to displace and disgrace their older counterparts, and rookie teams are coming into their conferences and being immediately competitive. 

Week 3, and hopefully we’ll see some big names finally get themselves onto the field: otherwise we’re going to see a number of teams with near half their seasons decided before others get theirs underway!! 

Ah well, here goes nothing:  

Glasgow Tigers @ EN Knights 

Knights have struggled thus far: dominated by the Clansmen last week (but who hasn’t been in 2012/13?) followed a surprise 1-point loss against the Pyros. Napier need to start picking up Ws soon, else they’ll be one of the minority of scots teams not seeing postseason football. 

Morale must be low after the shut-out loss to Stirling, but other teams have successfully recovered from a hammering at the hands of the clan to find victory the following week: including these Glasgow Tigers the Knights are about to square up against. 

Despite suffering a 100-7 blowout, the Tigers have refused to let that scoreline dictate the course of their season: week 2 saw them return to their resilient form as they ground out an overtime win over what I expected to be a far more offensively effective Predators outfit.  My ratings still have the Predators as the better of the two Edinburgh teams, so this should be another W for the Tigers, and they could see postseason football yet, even after their season-opening embarrassment.  

Tigers 20  – 12 Knights 

UWS Pyros @ Edinburgh Predators 

The Pyros have already managed to match their victory total from 2011/12, so everything from here will be a display of progress for a team that has been the low-point of scots football the past two seasons.  It’s somewhat difficult to tell if that 1-point win over the Knights represents Pyro progress, or Napier decline, but either way 13 points conceded is the best defensive performance by the Pyros in at least the past 2 seasons  - on average allowing 33pts a game past them in 11/12, and nearly 37pts/game the year before. 

If they can grab another upset win in week 3, there’s a real possibility of these guys getting a shot at a postseason, but while they dispatched one Edinburgh team, over the last few years it’s been the Predators who have been the prime team in the capital. 

Dominated in week 1, and edged out last week by a resurgent Tigers, it’s something of a shock to see the Scottish BUAFL trophy contenders sitting at 0-2. They’ll need to return to winning ways from here on out if they wish to repeat their postseason jaunts across the border, and I think they should get that chance against a Pyros team that’s only put up a single score against them in their last 3 meetings (and that was back in early part of 10/11)  

Predators 21 – 12 Pyros 

North Eastern  

Sunderland Spartans @ Leeds Carnegie 

Carnegie finally kick off their 2012/13 campaign, and find themselves entering into a new and surprisingly muddled North Eastern conference. 

Hot favourites for the conference title, Newcastle now sit at 0-2, and the previously perennially struggling Sunderland are currently sitting pretty at #2 in the conference! 

The Spartans can make a statement with a win here, whereas Carnegie will be hoping to get out of the gates fast and recover from a disappointing 2011/12 campaign in which they performed well through a very tough schedule, snagged some big wins, but ultimately fell at the final hurdle when it truly mattered in a half-game season-ending loss to cross-city rivals the Celtics. 

You just know that rivalry’s as hot as ever, and with Celtics currently feeling good off the back of the victory over Newcastle, Carnegie will be eager to gain momentum through the softer first half of their schedule. 

Spartans will need to compete against one of the traditionally toughest Ds in the country: but they can perhaps boast a rather stingy D of their own having managed a shutout of the Mustangs in week 1… But I’m not sure they’ve got the firepower on offence to push through for a win here just yet. 

Carnegie 14 – 6 Spartans 

York Centurions @ Bradford Bears 

The Bears will look to bounce back this week from their tough loss against the dominant looking Hull Sharks. By the looks of things, Bradford more than held its own in the first half, but faded through the second, and this week will look to prove they’re capable of being a true contender in the conference: not leaving things down to risky overtime wins such as in week 1. 

Their upcoming opponent, York, are yet to take the field in 12/13, and as such are something of an unknown. The Centurions were rather a conundrum in 11/12 as while they finished the season with a winning record (5-3), yet their winning ways overshadowed by the fact that over the season they conceded more than twice as many points as they put up! However, this could easily be argued this was more an issue of an anaemic offence that defensive difficulties, and at times this Centurions team could be rather resilient… As such, we’re possibly looking at two very similarly built teams: pedestrian offence, powerful defence. 

Edge goes to the Bears however, for the running start they’ve got coming into the game. 

Bears 16 – 8 Centurions 

Northumbria Mustangs @ Durham Saints 

When these two met in week 4 of 2011/12, Northumbria dominated Durham with a 42-0 thumping: such a pounding that the Saints didn’t even turn up to the second scheduled match-up (awarded 1-0). 

However, it’s clear already this season that this Mustangs team is made of different stuff to its recent incarnations as the Mustangs have only been shut out once in the past two seasons – and that against a tough Glasgow Tigers D that was one of the best in the nation at the time (54-0 loss in week 5 of 2010/11) – and yet their offence came up lame in week 1 against the surprising Sunderland Spartans. 

Could the Saints have an opportunity to avenge themselves for the smashing they took last season? Well, now’s clearly as good a chance as any, but Durham have to get themselves to the game first: more than they managed last weekend. 

Mustangs 12 – 6 Saints 

UH Sharks @ Leeds Celtics 

So far this season it certainly seems the Sharks are the team to beat in the North Eastern: despatching two of the favoured teams in the conference in the first two weeks. In their third straight matchup of the season however, they face off against a Celtics team that caused a shock end-of-season upset against Hull last year, with a 7-0 half-game victory over a perhaps complacent playoff-bound Sharks team. 

Certainly the 1-1 Celtics are looking like a far more rounded team in 2012/13 than they did through last year, where the majority of their wins came against the chaff of the old Northern conference - up until the surprising double-wins to end the season. 

The Celtics will be looking to repeat the upset and remain in the playoff race in what is looking just as competitive a conference as many expected coming into the season. To my eyes, it looks like the Celtics are on something of a par with the Bradford bears – judging by their narrow overtime loss to open the season – and the Sharks took a big bite out of those Bears last week, opening up in the second half to come away with a 31-16 victory. 

As such, we’ll look for more of the same this week. 

Sharks 24  14 Celtics 

Teesside Cougars @ Newcastle Raiders 

Oh how the mighty have fallen! 
Many’s favourite for the inaugural North Eastern conference crown coming into the season, the Raiders seem to be adrift without Head Coach Rooney at the helm… Title aspirations are surely now being replaced by a desperate scramble to simply not be considered the gutter trash in this shiny-new conference.  The schedule at least, might finally do them a favour this week, as they square-up against a Teeside team that’s amounted 2 wins over the last 2 seasons, total. The three times these two teams have met in that time? The combined scoreline is 148 – 12 in favour of the Raiders, so it’s certain that the Cougars have a mountain to climb! 

It’s clear the Raiders are a long way from where they finished last season and lack anything close to the offensive power that opened up 2011/12 with a 84-0 combustion of the Cougars, but we’d still expect them to push through for a W in this matchup. Otherwise? Ouch. 

Raiders 14 – 6 Cougars 

Big North Western  

Staffordshire Stallions @ Liverpool Fury 

First things first: This game will actually have to kick off! When it comes to the Fury? That’s nothing to take for granted. 

In an extended 13 week season last year, Fury only managed to take the field a decidedly disappointing 5 times. So far in 12/13, and they’re already 1 match up missed.  Ok, maybe that’s harsh, it was the welsh weather that held off the intended week 1 match up against Bangor, but still: it’s not like these boys don’t deserve the reputation they’ve been hitched with. 

Should they get out onto the field, there’s every possibility of actually bagging themselves their first win in a long-old while, as this is a Stallions team that is barely a shadow of its former glories and snagged it’s two wins last year via an overtime victory over the fledgling MMU Eagles, and… Worcester. And who hasn’t beaten Worcester?  Still, the Stallions have the advantage of a rolling start coming into this match up at least, at that may be the edge they need to push through and bag what could well be one of their only wins of the season with a rough and tumble schedule ahead of them… 

Stallions 12 – 8 Fury 

Hallam Warriors @ Derby Braves 

The Braves have broken into this conference in style, while the weather has conspired to keep the Warriors season stalled thus far. 

Used to the high climbs of the MAC, Derby have had an immediate impact in this new North Western conference with big, comfortable wins over Staffs and MMU. However, now they come up against one of the true giants of the North, a Warriors team that has been undefeated within their own conference for at least the past two seasons.  Certainly, the past two years the Warriors have opened up their seasons in style, with a 74-0 harrying of the Hawks in 10/11, followed up by a 52-0 crushing of the Celtics for 11/12. However, it’s rare their opposition have had an opportunity to build up such momentum coming into a match up where the Warriors will be starting cold off the offseason. As such, I’m looking at this game to be something of a shootout as the Braves keep their war party rolling, and Hallam get grinding with their nigh-unstoppable in the regular season, double-wing offence. 

If only because it seems foolish to go against them in a divisional match-up, I’m going with Hallam to take it… But I think the Brave’s might give them one of the best fights they’re going to get in a sloppy division. 

Warriors 32 – 26 Braves 

Sheffield Sabres @ Manchester Tyrants 

The trophy-champion Sabres are once again looking sharp on offence this year, and while many may have expected more points put up against the Bombers, it’s not like outscoring their opposition 89-6 over two match ups is exactly pedestrian.  

However, week 3 sees the ‘other’ Sheffield team (though the only one with recent silverware) come up against a Tyrants side that was something of a stumbling block for the Sabres last year. Coming into their week 9 match up against Manchester they had averaged 49.5 points a game, and everyone was expecting yet another blow-out victory. 

Yet, despite barely fielding enough players to constitute a squad, the Tyrants held the Sabres to only 2 scores, and even snagged themselves a safety of their own against a complacent 4-0 team. Perhaps that, followed by their poor-showing against Carnegie, was just the kick up the butt the Sabres needed to take them into the Steel Bowl two weeks later and nearly come out with a highly unexpected victory. 

As such, you’d certainly expect the Sheffield coaching staff will be pushing their players to come into this match up with their blades drawn and all guns blazing. This isn’t the 0-4, sparse-numbered Tyrants team they faced last year, but a fresh, 1-0 young team looking to make an statement in a weak conference. 

Still, they only beat the horrendous Hawks 19-8, so lets not go expecting too much!  

Sabres 32 – 6 Tyrants 

MMU Eagles @ UCLan Rams 

The Yoo-Clan Rams season may not have ‘officially’ kicked off, but by all the reports coming out of their scrimmage against the Tyrants in week 1, they’re looking just as ‘athletic’ as a certain BUAFL pundit stated, and headed up by DBLCoverage’s #O2W star Sam Bloomfield, they have every potential to have a surprisingly successful rookie season against the ‘soft-middle’ of this new BNW conference. 

The Eagles have started none-too-shabby either, with a 12-2 win over a Bombers team that’s not looking as much of a roll-over as it might after the not-as-heavy-as-expected loss to the Sabres, so this MMU side could be sporting a fair amount of muscle. 

No one’s really expected either side to be competing for postseason berths (though the conference’s #4 spot looks rather attainable), but it’s still a great opportunity for these two to test their mettle… 

I’m going to back an upset and take the rookie Rams. 

Rams 20 – 12 Eagles 

Bangor Muddogs @ Huddersfield Hawks 

Muddogs get a chance for revenge against a Hawks team that cost them a first-ever postseason berth in the season of their first ever win! 

So far, Bangor have had back to back home match ups called off due to weather, so they’ll be scrambling to get a season in at all: and more importantly it means we have no idea what their import-player situation is at present!  

11/12 saw a much-improved Muddog’s team ride their very own Bobby Bouches right to the cusp of postseason football, before being shockingly dominated in a half-game match-up against these Hawks. 

Will Bangor get vengeance? Or will this double-wing wielding Hawks team have an opportunity to take flight prior to the final matchup of the season like they did last year? Hmm, though we know less about them, I’m giving the edge to the boys from Bangor. 

Muddogs 12 – 6 Hawks 


NTU Renegades @ Leicester Longhorns 

Frustratingly, the Longhorns seem to have regressed somewhat in 2012/13, as at least last year they were able to somewhat contain the mighty Lugbug <blanks> and sneak a score of their own, whereas last week saw the newly-outfitted purple-people eaters (my suggestion for a name) roll right over the Longhorns in the Red Rose Bowl. 

They won’t be able to expect much of a better time of it this week, as the Miller-led Renegades come to town, eager to make up for lost time after their Wildcats matchup was called off last week. 

With talented individuals in every aspect of the game, NTU should be looking to secure a postseason berth early, and hope to finally go all the way to trophy silverware in 2013, rather than being stopped short as in recent seasons. Leicester really shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. 

Renegades 24 – 6 Longhorns 

Loughborough Purple People Eaters  @ Wolverhampton Wildcats 

Hopefully the Wildcats will have resolved whatever issues saw the game called off last week and can get their inaugural BUAFL season underway… I’m hearing otherwise though. 

Then again, one could forgive them for not being exactly eager to have this matchup go down in their annals as their first ever competitive game: all indications point to a purple-wash as Team 25 roll ever onwards to the FAUK bowl. 

Aces 49 – 0 Wildcats 

Coventry Jets @ DMU Falcons 

Some harsh treatment from the schedule makers here as these two teams meet in back-to-back matchups. Can we really expect the Falcons to turn around a 30pt loss in a week? Even with tape review and adjustments, it’s a big ask and I just can’t see it. 

Look for the same as last week me thinks. 

Jets 30 – 0 Falcons 

Northampton Nemesis @ Lincoln Colonials  

This match up never got off the ground last week, but from the reports that came out of the scrimmage, Colonials actually dominated a playoff-bound Nemesis team. 

Worse for Northants, their week2 game against the Wolves hardly went to plan as their double-wing wasn’t even able to put up a point, their only scoring coming from a safety. 

Fair enough, it’s not like the Colonial’s offence has put any points on their board yet this season, but then they were up against the mighty, mighty Lions. Difficult to tell if Lincoln actually possess any strength when they’re so heavily dominated, but I think we’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt this time around: we KNOW the Nemesis are looking sloppy so far, for sure. 

Colonials 12 – 6 Nemesis 

South Western Atlantic Conference  

Bath Spa Bulldogs @ Plymouth Blitz 

I don’t do Blitz predictions… 

But if I did, I’d say the Blitz RBs will be a highlight. 

Swansea Titans @ Gloucestershire Gladiators 

Gladiators got hot last week, avenging their 40-14 season-opening loss to Bath Spa last season with a 40-0 triumph to follow up their tight loss against Plymouth Blitz in week 1. It’s clear, they’ve stepped up nicely over the offseason, and as such look good going into a matchup against a Swansea team who are yet to play in 12/13. 

Admittedly, this means the Titans are really something of an unknown at present, but the meeting between these two was highly competitive last year as the Glads finally managed to find some offensive rhythm towards season end, and lost out in a after-regular-season 38-26 shootout. 

Familiarity and momentum could well be key here, and Gloucestershire have both coming into the game. Titans will fight for it, unwilling to be overtaken by the young Gladiators program in such a competitive conference, but I think this games is the Glad’s to lose! 

Gladiators 24 – 20 Titans 

Tarannau Aberystwyth @ Worcester Royals 

In all likelihood, this matchup will decide the conference’s wooden-spooner. At least for one of these teams, the end of an extended losing streak is finally in sight! Aber went the entirety of 2011/12 without a single victory, and started off 12/13 with a rather ignominious 44-6 smashing at the hands of a currently conference-leading Bath team, whereas Worcester haven’t won a league game since… urm, ever. 

Could this be there chance? Their match-up against ‘Cuda was far tighter than most would have expected? Have they FINALLY, sans their head coach, found the magical formula to eek out a first ever BUAFL victory?!?! 

If only cos I simply can’t quite live with the idea of Worcester getting their first league win in their first season in the SWAC, I’m backing Tarannau – who even if they aren’t quite the storm they claimed to be, were perhaps a little better in their Bath game than the score line reflected.  

Tarannau 18 – 12 Royals 

Cardiff Cobras @ Bristol Barracuda 

In my mind’s eye, the only explanation I can find for ‘Cuda ‘only’ beating Worcester 20-6 is that the offseason has hit the Bristol side hard, and it’s their decline rather than Worcester’s rise that led to a far slimmer margin of victory than many expected. 

Now’s their chance to prove me wrong, and make a statement in one of the league’s most hotly contested divisions, by taking down one of the conference’s championship contenders from last year. 

The Cobras edged through last week by the snake-skin of their fangs, with a pick-six in the fourth securing them a narrow victory over single-wing wielding Exeter team that came together only in the second half of the game. Knowing they can’t hope to rely on fourth quarter heroics every week, expect Cardiff to attempt to rack up a more confident victory, overpowering a smaller-bodied Bristol team, much like they did early last season. 

Cobras 30 – 6 Barracuda 

UWE Bullets @ Exeter Demons 

The Demons let me down last week as a game-deciding pick 6 in the 4th saw them fall short of continuing their championship-team-defeating ways. 

By the sounds of things, they came out of the gates slow in their first game last week, and it wasn’t until the second half that their single-wing offence began to grind out the yardage and knock in a couple of scores. Only an ill-advised pass from the freshly-starting QB in the 4th quarter gave the game away to Cardiff. 

They’ll be hoping that first half, and the fourth quarter pick, were the last creases that needed ironing out of their offence as they head into their week 3 game against the reigning conference champs. Well, rested off of a Bye, UWE secured a comfortable, if perhaps a bit pedestrian, victory over Bath Spa in week 1, and must be hoping this year they can finally secure their conference crown undefeated. Last year it was this Exeter team, off the end of Mr Sancto’s boot, that robbed them of that chance (and very nearly the conference crown itself) and reportedly Demons have been plaguing Head Coach Matt Dyke’s dreams ever since! 

The Bullets held a surprisingly pass-happy Bulldogs more-or-less in check in week 1, but it remains to be seen how they’ll handle the single-win after the extensive changes to their defensive coaching staff… 

I told myself I’d stop predicting upsets… but I just can’t help myself!   

Demons 21 – 20 Bullets 

Thames Valley Conference 

Kingston Cougars @ RHUL Bears 

These rookie Cougars must be feeling rather chuffed with themselves coming into week 3 of the season, even if it is off the back of a loss. 

How many rookie outfits could manage a single-score loss against a recent National Champion?  As such, they should look pretty comfy against this struggling Holloway Bears team, with complacency likely to be their biggest enemy this week, rather than the opposition themselves: A Bears side that was shutout 9 times in its previous two seasons, though did at least manage to put up a couple of scores when they were blown up by BNU last week. 

With their first truly ‘soft’ opponent of the season, expect the Cougars to open up on offence and set themselves a nice benchmark to aim for in many seasons to come. 

Cougars 52 – 6 Bears 

OBU Panthers @ BNU Buccaneers 

BUAFL’s 11/12 regular season #1 defence comes up against the best offence in the league to NOT see postseason football.  
When they met this very same week last year, OBU did the best job of shutting down BNU’s devious double-wing that we’ve seen in a good number of seasons, keeping the high-powered offence to only a single score. 

However, with their week 1 matchup called off, we’re yet to see the what shape the Panthers are in this year, how much of that best-in-the-nation defence has returned to attempt to repeat the task in 2012/13. Word on the wire talks of some staff changes, and early organisation issues… but considering how big a step up this team took between 10/11 and 11/12, we can’t believe graduations have had TOO much of an effect? 

BNU will have built momentum with their big win last week, but the season-opening loss against the rookie Cougars will surely still be playing in their mind… Tough to predict with having only seen one team take the field so far, but I’m going to trust that a D so strong can’t crumble utterly in just one offseason: Edge to Oxford.  

Panthers 20 – 18 Buccaneers 

Portsmouth Destroyers @ Brunel Burners 

Portsmouth scraped through against the rather impressive rookie Cougars last week, while Brunel were fairly effective themselves against a strong Southampton Stags team. 

It’s clear the Burners have taken big steps forwards, but is that going to be enough when they come up against a recovering Destroyers team that even at its low point last season, made it trophy football.  

DC founder and Brunel HC Jon Goddard certainly has high hopes for this young program and a win here could make them legitimate contenders in what is shaping up to be probably the most competitive and deep-in-strength conference in the league… 

But Pompey surely have too much left-over championship pride to let themselves be burnt by Brunel just yet… 

Destroyers 18 – 12 Burners 

Southampton Stags @ Reading Knights 

Difficult to know what to say about Reading just yet, other than that they finished last season on a rather bum note against BNU, and then added on some post-regular season coaching controversy to boot. Yeah, they racked up a big score on Surrey, but who doesn’t do that these days? 

Stags meanwhile came out of the gates looking every bit the dominant force in the division that we were expecting. 

They still perhaps have a few shakes to sort out on D (much like they did in their season opening shoot-out against BNU last season), but it’s clear their offence hasn’t skipped a beat as they racked up 47 points on a much-improved Burners squad. 

When these two met last year Stags rode out to a comfortable 29-6 victory and I can’t see Reading having broached that gap in a single offseason. 

Stags 36 – 14 Knights 

Solent Redhawks @ Surrey Stingers 

Really a rather pleasantly soft start to the season for a Solent team that started out last season 0-3 thanks to some rather rough scheduling… Still, last Sunday saw them romp to a 30-0 half-game victory over the rookie Oxford Lancers, and week 2 against the ‘worst team in the league in 2011/12’ should see much of the same. 

Doesn’t seem like much has changed for the ‘Sorry’ Stingers as Reading ran rampant over them last week to the tune of a 39-0 pounding. Against a red-hot Redhawks team? Probably going to go even more poorly for them. At least having sat bottom of both the offensive AND defensive rankings last year, they can’t really do any WORSE in 2012/13... 

Redhawks 53 – 0 Stingers 

Brighton Tsunami @ Oxford Lancers 

I’ve considered Brighton one of the league’s ‘unluckiest’ programs in recent seasons… with horrible schedules, and then ‘gifted’ with a move into what is quickly shaping up the be the toughest and most competitive conference in the league, the Tsunami have weathered some tough times. 

I’m not really expecting Brighton to make particularly big waves in the conference this year, but at least with their week 1 matchup against Portsmouth being rained off they should be able to open up 12/13 with a winning start against a rookie Lancers team that’s already running into problems. 

30-0 down at the half last Sunday, the Lancers were forced to concede due to number of injuries. Hopefully they’ve recuperated enough to at least play this match up, but it’s still looking like they’re in for a rough rookie season. 

Brighton should take this without too much trouble, and they can ride the crest of this wave through their VERY soft pre-christmas schedule (Lancers, RHUL Bears, Surrey Stingers), hoping to build momentum before they come crashing against the rocks in the new year (Pompey, Stags, BNU, Reading and Cougars). 

Tsunami 24 – 6 Lancers 

Hertfordshire Hurricanes @ Cambridge Pythons 

Not gonna lie, much like many a priest over the years, I'm quite a fan of these Cambridge boys. 

Fair enough, they only ever seem to pull off the upsets they're getting a rep for whenever I DON'T predict them to, (then, is it really an upset if you expect it to happen?...) but even so , these Pythons have pluck! 

Still,  even if I loved them as much as I love the Redskins (which I think the last few seasons have proven is an absolute love that years of pain and heartbreak cannot sunder)  there's no way I could, in all reason, predict them any kind of upset victory here. The purple Herts (ha!) are the reigning national champs and show no signs of having dropped a step so far this season. 

The Pythons might squeeze in a score or two (see what I did there?), but the Hurricanes don't like stopping below 50. 

Hurricanes 54 – 6 Pythons 

Canterbury Chargers @ Essex Blades 

The Chargers came oh-so-close to retribution last week as a fourth quarter come from behind victory finally allowed to Falcons to confirm their title as the top team in Canterbury. Perhaps it’s rather poetic, that as the Chargers scraped through week 1 with a single-point victory, it was another lonely individual point that cost them last Sunday. 

Still, compliments to the Chargers as they managed to more or less ground the Falcon’s offence, which was flying high in week 1 (57-0 over Greenwich). Canterbury are still a team very capable of bagging a trophy-berth in the SEC if they keep up this form, but as they come up against the 2011/12 SEC’s number 2 team(and a distant one at that it’s fair to say) this week, it’s a great opportunity for the Chargers to show these tight games they’ve been in are more than just flukes. 

Difficult to say much about the Blades so far really, as they proved rather blunt up against the Hurricanes last Sunday. The reigning National Champions blew the Blades right out of the park with a ‘casual’ (by their standards) 53-0 victory, and so even if this Blades team is just as capable of reaching postseason football as it was last year, it’s not like we could tell (they lost 51-0 last year and still saw championship football… briefly.) 

Tough to pick, but if only for comic effect: Chargers to nab it in yet another 1 point game. 

Chargers 21 – 20 Blades 

Westminster Dragons @ Greenwich Mariners 

This young Dragons team performed admirably last week against UEA’s formidable GB run game, whereas the Mariners found themselves utterly sunk in their only game so far this season, a week 1 57 to zip pasting against the resurgent Kent Falcons. 

The Mariners have obviously dipped in form since last year (at least when Kent put 58 on them last year, they shot back 29 of their own in return) so on paper it would seem that the Dragons have the advantage going into the game: at the least, they’ve found the end zone already this season, which is more than Greenwich can boast. 

However, in the past Greenwich have had a bad habit of dipping their heads when there’s a beating on the cards, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happened here. I don’t think they’re even close to the calibre team they were last season, but they should still be capable of edging a victory over this young Dragons program.   

Mariners 14 – 12 Dragons 

KCL Regents @ Kent Falcons 

Chargers pipped the Regents by 1 in week 1, whom the Falcons slipped past by a single digit last week as well, so we could be looking at a very tight match up if recent form is to be counted upon! 

Last time these two teams met, it was a Kent side on the slide that couldn’t even manage a single point against the Regents (0-22) and were lucky to progress to playoffs without winning a single post-Christmas game in 2011/12.  It’s apparent however that the Falcons have recovered well over the offseason, and are currently sitting pretty at 2-0 – if only just! Meanwhile the 0-2 Regents can count themselves as rather unlucky to be sitting at the bottom of the conference table – tight losses of 1 and 4 points against teams with postseason expectations shows this incarnation of the Regents is not the pushover despite their current ranking. 

Still, the Regents won’t encounter nearly as vulnerable a team as they shutout last season, and the Falcons will be carrying good momentum coming off their fourth quarter heroics last week. 

Falcons 20 – 12 Regents 

ARU Rhinos @ Imperial Immortals 

Considering we never expected a great amount out of ARU as a combined campus team, it’d be tough to expect much from the newer, less-experienced single-campus version. 

That said, with the Phantoms withdrawal, the Rhinos are already outperforming their counterparts simply by continuing to exist in the League, so kudos there at least! 

Beyond that? This Immortals team performed well through a tough schedule in a much tougher conference last season, and last week despatched what looks like a competitive KCL side.  

This inexperienced Rhinos program should be just the fodder Imperial need to carry their spirits and morale through what’s likely to be a painful ‘welcome to the conference’ from the Hurricanes next weekend. 

Immortals 30 – 0 Rhinos 

UEA Pirates @ LSBU Spartans 

Last season the Spartans sparked all kinds of controversy by handing a loss to what looked like a promising Pirates team early last year – many argued (and I won’t lie that I largely agreed) that they deserved far more credit than many analysts gave them…  However, in the end they proved their doubters somewhat correct, as LSBU bounced their way through a roller-coaster season of highs and lows that made them utterly unpredictable for poor pundits like myself! 

As such, it’s always with trepidation that I predict an LSBU game… especially when after a week 1 cancellation I have no recent form to go on! (not that a 50+ to nothing smashing at the hands of Herts would have told me all that much really…)… But we have to take what we’re given, and UEA look to be much the same side as last year: effective, thanks to some individual talents, but lacking in the kind of unified team strength to make them anything resembling a threat beyond the soggy borders of the SEC.  

Carson will carry his team through to a win, but if the Dragons can put one by the Pirates? Spartans should manage at least a couple.  

Pirates 24 – 12 Spartans  _______________________________________- 

Phew! C’est Finis! 

Lots of games things week, hopefully not too many will be stolen by the raindrops… 

Gripe and groan as ever! @WillyTee1 

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