Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Mid Season Review: SWAC

Bath have followed up on last season’s deep Challenge Trophy run with an undefeated start to the 2012 season. Wins over Aberystwyth, Plymouth, Swansea and UWE leave Bath in command of the SWAC, but with Exeter, Cardiff, Bristol and Bath Spa left on the schedule, 8-0 is far from given. The addition of Blitz RB Deji Alli and a small graduating class of 2012 have certainly helped Bath out, and with a monster graduation looming in the summer, Bath need to get it done this season. The question is if they do take the SWAC title, how far can they go in the championship playoffs?

Cardiff have been incredibly disappointing thus far, with a win against Exeter being their only positive result in a 1-3 record. Coaching changes and a mostly rookie O-line could well explain their poor form, and we’re sure this season will just be a short blip for the perennially strong Cobras. Their first Welsh Bowl loss in eons is indicative just how bad a year this is for Cardiff – with remaining games against Bath, Plymouth, Worcester and Bath Spa, a 0.500 record is still possible but the playoffs look a long way away.

Plymouth look stronger each time they take the field, with big score lines over Bristol and Bath Spa banishing memories of their early loss to Bath. Double Coverage’s Willy Tee has been training up a stable of solid running backs that Plymouth will look to ride all the way to the playoffs.  The 3-1 Blitz round off their season with games against Exeter, Swansea, Cardiff, and a huge game against UWE that could well decide a championship playoff berth, they will be looking to go one better than last year and make it to the big dance.

Aberystwyth have only managed to get three games played thus far, but sit at 2-1 after a thumping by Bath but an encouraging win over Worcester and a shock Welsh Bowl victory over Cardiff. Their big worry for this year must be getting their schedule completed, with the notorious Welsh weather meaning that games have already had to be moved hours away from their home pitch. Any additional wins will be a bonus after coming off last year’s 0-8 record, and if they continue to recruit well, 2013-14 could be a big season for Tarannau.

Bath Spa seem to be in freefall this season. Last year’s gains seem to have slipped as the Bulldogs go into Christmas winless, with a -136 points difference. This writer genuinely expected Bath Spa to go 0.500 this year after a promising 3-5 2011-12 campaign, but this year’s recruitment class clearly wasn’t sufficiently large as the Bulldogs are rolling with an incredibly small squad this season. Their remaining fixtures could possibly offer up a win or two though, with matchups against Bath, Aberystwyth, Cardiff and a final week showdown against Worcester that could well decide the SWAC’s wooden spoon. 

Before week 6 it looked like the Worcester Royals had made quite a promising start to the season; their two losses were only by an average of 13 points (under two scores), the team’s defence had only conceded 3 touchdowns in 2 games; and they were not at the bottom of the SWAC conference, all this despite the Royals losing their head coach just before their first game.

However, a 67-0 defeat to the Exeter Demons in week 6 is likely to have brought a great deal of any optimism surrounding the Royals crashing down in what would have been a disappointing loss.

Heading into the second half of the season the Royals still have reason to be optimistic. With games scheduled against teams surrounding them at the bottom of the SWAC conference, including a potential wooden-spoon match with Bath Spa, the team will get a fair chance to salvage their season and maybe even get that elusive victory.

Sitting at number 2 in the SWAC table, the UWE Bullets were unlucky not to be going into the christmas break at the top of the conference following a narrow 21-20 defeat to the Bath Killer Bees.

After the break though the Bullets will get the chance to separate themselves from the chasing pack of teams snapping at their heels with games against each of the 3 teams directly below the bullets in the table (Plymouth Blitz; Aberystwyth Tarranau; and Bristol Barracuda).

The Bullets are likely to cement their place as number 2 in the SWAC unless Bath slip up, expect to see UWE in the playoffs come the end of the BUAFL season.

This season so far will have been pretty disappointing for the Titans who up until week 6’s 54-16 win over the Bath Spa Bulldogs in week 6 had failed to win a game.

This win over the Bulldogs will most likely have lifted the spirits of the team going into and coming out of the Christmas break, this is something that will be needed with both tough and competitive games scheduled for the Titans.

If any momentum gained from their win against Bath Spa is maintained the Swansea could land up with a good record come the end of the season. With the Worcester Royals being their first game back this is possible but followed by tough games against Aberystwyth Tarranau and Plymouth Blitz it will prove to be a difficult feat.

With two wins and a narrow defeat against the Plymouth Blitz the first half of the season, results-wise, certainly went well for the Gloucester Gladiators.

However, having not played since week 3 through a combination of the fixture list and bad weather the Gladiators will most likely be one of the rustier teams heading into the second of the season.

With a matchup with one of their key-competitors and fellow surprise package, Tarranau, the Gladiators will be looking to prove themselves and establish a place towards the top of the SWAC. Having already played Plymouth and avoiding the like of the Bath Killer Bees and the UWE Bullets in the second half of the season the Gladiators will have a great chance to do so.

Exeter's 1-2 record might suggest a disappointing start to the season, but when you consider those two losses came to a UWE side that overturned a 14 point deficit, and to the up and down Cardiff, it's not so bad. Their win was a thorough spanking of SWAC whipping boys Worcester.

Due to the small sample size it's hard to tell just how good this year's Demons squad is, but we see no reason why they shouldn't be challenging for a playoff berth after narrowly missing out last season.

Exeter's run in sees them play games against Bristol, Plymouth, Gloucestershire, Swansea and Bath on five consecutive Sundays, so staying healthy will surely be a big factor when assessing the Demons' chances of making the postseason for the second time in their short history.


  1. ummmm, Exeter Demons? I like them, I want to hear more about them and their second half of the season come back.

  2. Missed two teams out of this, Exeter and Bristol. Well done


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