Saturday, 2 February 2013

Rivalry Week Predictions



We’ve finally reached that weekend in the season that everyone looks forward to. No, not Super Bowl week, but instead, rivalry week!
Our team of writers have been working hard to bring you their in-depth analysis for each and every game, as well as deciding the final outcome.
With most Universities beginning their second semester next Monday, this may be the final time everyone can enjoy our articles without the worry of assignments hanging over their head!
Note: Due to less than a handful of games being played last weekend, our top 25 hasn’t been updated. So don’t complain if your team finds themselves ranked lower than a team they have just defeated! We’re looking at you Brighton players, alumni, etc...


Saltire Conference
It’s February and the biggest question on everyone’s mind in Scotland is….will there ever be another game played, ever again? The rubbish winter weather has meant extended periods down the pub for most teams’ grounds men and players alike. This weekend sees two fixtures where both home teams chairmen will be taking an over active interest in the weather forecast updates.
Edinburgh Napier Knights (0-3) vs. Edinburgh Predators (1-3) at Meggetland Stadium
Last year’s clash saw two Scottish teams, who most of BCAFL were unaware off, put on a great football show in front of a 1000 fans. The game itself saw the emergence of the Predators as a playoff plate contender and launched them on their run into the off-season.
This year’s game has been widely advertised and the Knights are hosting local school kids pre-game in order to promote and develop the sport. And development is the key word at play here for the Knights. 3 loses would indicate a struggling team but rumours reach DC towers of a change in approach from the Knights anaemic Offense. Key players Jamie Welsh (RB) and Ryan Strachan (LB) will be the key to their success.
Edinburgh may have the bigger university but the Predators have the smaller squad. A passing offense masks their ability to run the ball well. Fast and efficient the Preds go into the game as favourites with key players Dan Cameron (WR/QB) and Ian Beurger (LB) leading their respective units.
Knights Head Coach Pete Laird was adamant that the time was now right for the underdog Napier team to upset the form book. ‘We are coming out all guns blazing. Whilst I respect our opponents it really comes down to what my players can do on the day. This is a ferocious fixture and there will be no hiding place for players who under perform. With a huge crowd in the stands if our boys don’t play to their ability they will hear about it from a very noisy and vocal crowd and the coaches on the sideline. I need to know how badly they want this win and that trophy’.
Predators Coach Stewart Adam tried to play down his teams favourites tag and was looking beyond the Varsity game itself. ‘Last year’s victory is history. We just want this win to help get us to the playoffs’.

Prediction: Predators by 10 
UWS Pyro’s (1-2) vs. #20 Glasgow Tigers (3-1)
Last week’s Pyro’s/Predators clash was called off because of an unplayable pitch and this weekend’s fixture must remain doubtful barring an unheard of tropical heatwave in Paisley. The Pyro’s loss in their last fixture in November means UWS really need to win to stay in touch. A decent running game and a solid defensive line are UWS strengths this season and HC Bud McFerrin has also returned to the field. An opening victory over the Napier Knights saw the glimpse of things to come but this really has to be marked down as a ‘must win’ fixture.
The Tigers are now 2 games ahead of the chasing pack in the race for the Plate Playoff spot. Their last fixture was also in November in the corresponding home fixture against the Pyro’s. A 27-8 victory that day gave Glasgow a comfortable win but the Pyro’s certainly had their opportunities with costly turnovers handing the momentum to the Tigers.
Some good ol’ fashioned smash nose running football on display means this one should be a low scorer. (Note: Never pick a Saltire WR on your fantasy team)

Prediction: Tigers by 18
Tigers in action vs Edinburgh Napier Knights, 18th November 2012: 

Big North Western

The Steel Bowl – #8 Sheffield Sabres (5-0) vs. #24 Hallam Warriors (1-1)
It’s rivalry week in the Big North Western with three of our five game involving local derbies, so accordingly here’s an extended look at our game of the week, perhaps the fiercest in the Conference as the Hallam Warriors meet the Sheffield Sabres in The Steel Bowl on Saturday night!

Over the past four years the Sabres haven’t beaten Hallam either in Varsity or the league, that’s played five lost five. In fact you have to go back to the 2007/08 season for the last Sabres victory, although they came mighty close last year!

Last year’s fixture will live long in the memory for both teams for different reasons…

Just before half-time Hallam seemed in total control of the game leading albeit 21-7 that was before the Sabres scored three unanswered touchdowns, one just before the break and two in the third period, to take the lead 21-28.

Hallam had not scored in the second half and late in the fourth quarter knew that failing to score on their next possession could spell defeat. Head Coach Richard Batty turned to veteran Danny Pyle who took the ball 29 yards in 6 carries.

On fourth & 16, a gap opened up and Pyle made one of the defining plays of the game carrying the ball for a new set of downs, following a good spot from the officials, this gave rookie RB James Muzonda the chance to run the ball into the end zone from 9 yards out, to pull the home side to within just one point.
With Hallam trailing by a single point 27-28 Head Coach Richard Batty decided to go for the win with a bold two point conversion, which paid off, taking the score to 29-28 in the dying minutes to send the Warriors sideline delirious!

Needless to say the Sabres will be looking to redress the balance this year. They stand toe to toe at the top of the Conference with Derby with an undefeated 5-0 record, after securing their first ever piece of silverware last season – the Challenge Trophy. Meanwhile, Hallam (1-1) have been badly hit by several postponements and are still looking for their second victory of the season.

But only playing two games to date does have its advantages. Hallam’s teams this year have a very different look about them, they have come to the end of a four year cycle and many of their experienced veterans have now moved on to pastures new, notably veteran running backs Danny Pyle and Darren Gayle. This season’s squad is made-up of predominantly rookie (80%) with former DB Aden Flanagan moving to quarterback for the first time, after the departure of Jacob Muncey.

On the Sabres sideline is a figure Flanagan will know very well, as former Hallam Warrior quarterback David Saul starts his first Steel Bowl in Black and Gold. Saul and Flanagan have played Youth ball together at the Sheffield Tomahawks, senior ball together at Sheffield Predators where they won a ring last season and did I mention they’ve both represented GB in the same team.

Sabres quarterback David Saul returned to action last week against the Stallions, after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction on his throwing arm in December, but it didn’t seem to hamper him as he guided Sheffield to a 39-6 victory.

Which way the result will go has be the subject of much debate and banter in Sheffield this week, but one thing is for sure you can never right off either side, even with a squad of 80% rookies Head Coach Richard Batty will still have his team well prepared – Sabres by a single score


#21 UCLan Rams (3-0) v Lancaster Bombers (0-4)
It’s the first ever rivalry game between the Rams and the Bombers as they meet on Sunday at the UCLan Sports Arena, but both sets of players will no doubt know each other well through their connections with the Lancashire Wolverines who are based at the Lancashire Academy of American Football.

The Rams come into this game off the back of a nail-biting 10-8 victory over the Staffordshire Stallions. Inevitably many of the Ram’s players are former Wolverines, including GB Youth TE Sam Bloomfield who had a standout game last weekend with -- one interception, one forced fumble and fumble recovery, several tackles for a loss, two pass deflections and a 22 yard reception. Other players to watch for the Rams are Brendan Walkin, Sam Drakeford and Chris Anderson.

Lancaster return to action for the first time since the winter break, they currently sit bottom of the Big North Western Conference with a 0-4 record, having scored 8 points in three games against the Eagles, Sabres and Hallam. That was before they faced league leaders Derby. That game finished Lancaster 36-68 Derby, in a scintillating high-scoring affair, which despite the loss Lancaster will take heart from, but it is tough to see where that first win of the season will come for Lancaster.

Rams by two score

MMU Eagles (1-4) v Manchester Tyrants (3-2)
The third and final rivalry game in the Big North Western this year sees the two Manchester teams go head to head. This has been a fixture dominated by the more established Tyrants who have never lost a varsity game against MMU.

The Tyrants previously represented players from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, before the Eagles were established in 2011 and last year’s result was very one-sided with the Tyrants winning 36-8. With a 3-2 record, after victories against Staffordshire, Liverpool and Huddersfield, the Tyrants currently sit in fourth place in the conference and have a real possibility of achieving a playoff berth if they keep their recent run of form going.

The Eagles come into this fixture off the back of a 26-18 loss to Huddersfield, but a much improved performance. The Eagles opened the season with a slim 12-2 victory over Lancaster and since then have been unable to replicate that performance, losing to the league leaders Derby, UCLan Rams
and Liverpool Fury. Thus far, the Eagles have scored only 36 points in five games and conceded 137 points needless to say defensive frailties need addressing ahead of this game.

Tyrants by three scores

Huddersfield Hawks (2-3) vs. #6 Derby Braves (5-0)
Fresh off the back of their 26-18 victory over the MMU Eagles, the Huddersfield Hawks welcome the undefeated (5-0) Derby Braves to Batley Sports and Tennis Centre for arguably their toughest test since the Sheffield Sabres game way back in Week 1. The Braves have posted consistently high totals, reflected in the fact they’ve racked up the fourth-most points in the entire country, but haven’t played since the winter break when they defeated Lancaster Bombers 68-36. At the moment their offence, led by QB Joe Brammer are scoring almost at will, averaging 45 points per game.

The Hawks defence will be hoping for as much success getting to the QB as they enjoyed against the Eagles. DE Chris Atkinson will need another standout game, he’s now recorded the second highest number of sacks with his three during Week 7, behind Chris Facchin with five. Offensively, the Hawks rushing game continues to click behind an ever-improving o-line and Stephen Ashford, who goes into Sunday just 28 yards shy of 500 on the season, with five TDs to his name already. Tom Foulds punched through 200 yards with his third and fourth TD of the season at Manchester.

The Hawks’ defence needs to have another really strong performance again this week, but the offence will also need to play its part, unfortunately even though they are improving I suspect Derby will have their way with the Hawks

Bangor Muddogs (0-3) vs. Liverpool Fury (2-2) – at Liverpool
Saturday see’s Bangor travel to Merseyside to take on a Liverpool side, which have been extremely impressive so far this season, Bangor meanwhile will just be happy to get a game played after all the issues they’ve had with the weather.

This has already been one of the most successful seasons to date for Liverpool Fury. From a team that finished winless last season (0-5), they currently sit mid-table with a 2-2 record. The club admits that massive financial problems last season were an unhealthy distraction for the players and that simply keeping the team going was a huge achievement. The question is can they sustain their good start.
Bangor had to postpone yet another game last week and it seems Hallam may never get to play the Muddogs. Those other postponed fixtures and losses against Huddersfield, Derby and Sheffield Sabres leave the Muddogs with a 0-3 record and work to do after the winter break if they are to avoid the conference’s wooden spoon.

Bangor have not scored a single point since Week One and in their opening three games have conceded 82 points, they will do well to avoid another loss against what is a rampant Fury – Liverpool by two scores

North Eastern

Leeds Celtics (3-2) vs. #17 Leeds Carnegie (3-1)
This year’s varsity game promises one thing: passion.

Last year the original fixture was called off due to the snow, and couldn’t be properly rearranged. This led to a half-game between the two, with the Hull Sharks also due to play.

On a near-waterlogged pitch, both teams struggled to move the ball, particularly Carnegie’s triple option running game. After many fumbles, recoveries, sacks and punts, the Celtics finally made the breakthrough, and having been used to the conditions, managed to shut out their opposition and hold onto a vital win.

As if the rivalry between these two teams wasn’t enough already, the Celtics win last season propelled them into the playoff spot previously held by their Yorkshire foes.

Saturday’s game already has strong playoff implications for both teams. At 3-1, Carnegie can start to think about second spot in the division, pushing the Celtics to 3-3 and essentially out of the race. However, a win for Leeds University would put them right back up there alongside Carnegie, along with the Bradford Bears.

This season has been a mixed bag for both teams. Carnegie expectedly lost to the rampant Sharks, who also beat the Celtics with relative ease. Celtics then lost in overtime to Bradford, a result which could be immensely important after all 8 games have been played.

Leeds Carnegie have allowed 610 yards, both passing and rushing, on their defence this season so far. But in these four games, the 504 yards of penalties has been what’s caused them to nearly implode on a number of occasions. They will be relieved to have beaten Hull and kept second spot, but need to stop the trend of offsides, false starts and poor discipline.

Rookie defensive end Connor Bibby said “Penalties are obviously costing us dearly, but we believe that we can cut these out pretty quickly. Both teams have traditionally strong defences, and any mistakes on the day could be irreversible. Everyone’s obviously pumped up as it’s our varsity game; my first; and we expect it to be played with utmost professionalism and hunger, with the reward for a win potentially a trip to the playoffs…”

The Celtics however have some potent weapons of their own. Defensively, defensive back ‘JC’ leads the team with at least one interception per game so far this season, whilst linebacker Freddie Gough was recently successful in his Great Britain trials. Running the ball, Toby Richardson is one to look out for having put up 18 solo points on the board against Northumbria. Celtics president Darren Mould said “ we are looking forward to what should be a hard physical game, the rivalry between the two teams despite being quite young is as good as it can get with both teams looking to assert themselves as the best team in Leeds.”

Overall, this is not just a varsity game; the winner will take a huge step forward towards the playoffs; the loser having to settle for the challenge trophy. Blood and tears will be spilt as the Superbowl of Yorkshire takes place.

Carnegie by one score.

Newcastle Raiders (1-3) vs. Sunderland Spartans (2-2)
This is another hard game to call in the North Eastern division. Whilst substantially underperforming, Newcastle have the undoubted ability to rip teams apart and post massive scores on the board. Al Whitehead has rejuvenated his Spartan offense, but with playoff football apparently out of the picture, the once-conquering Raiders will want to keep as much pride as possible and take a step towards a winning record this season. Having scraped by Teesside, Sunderland can go 3-2 with a win here and keep post-season football a possibility, although an apparent lack of training may show toward the fourth quarter.

Newcastle by 12

Durham Saints (1-1) vs. #23 Bradford Bears (3-2)
Durham currently occupies fifth spot in the NEC, although only two games have been played; their solitary win coming against bottom side the Teesside Cougars. This weekend they face a resilient Bradford Bears side who cannot afford another loss this season if they want to ensure they clinch second spot, and even then it could be out of their hands. If the reliable Bears turn up, they should sweep the Saints aside and stay on par with their Yorkshire rivals in the race for second spot.

Bradford by 30+

York Centurions (1-2) vs. #7 Hull Sharks (4-0)
There are a few teams in this division who would LOVE York to grab a win here. They’ve defeated Bradford and only lost to Carnegie in overtime, so the evidence is there to say they can keep up. However, they sit at 1-2 so far after the Carnegie game and a poor loss to Northumbria, and are likely to be 1-3 after this game. The Centurions have a good passing game, and should be able to put points on the board and hope for some luck. As with the Bradford game, the Sharks ought to prove their superior fitness and run away with the game in the final quarter. A win here for Hull all but guarantees them to be crowned inaugural champions of the NEC. Expect them to do it in style.

Hull by 22
MAC
#16 NTU Renegades (3-1) vs. Nottingham Outlaws (1-3)
The banner game in the MAC this week is the Nottingham derby. Whilst their records may look very different I don’t believe the gulf in talent is as large as it might appear.
NTU have had a very solid season so far, only losing once to Birmingham whilst beating Coventry, Leicester and DMU – with only the Longhorns keeping them competitive. They’ve also had a couple of GB call ups, including TE Rob Cartwright and CB Marcus Boswell, and will be hopeful they can continue to push for the playoffs following the Christmas break. Most of you will have seen the readily available game highlights they produce (more teams should aspire to the level of quality, although many coaches won’t want to give so much scout away for free), and they sit at a well-deserved 3rd place in the MAC going into this heated rivalry game.
Nottingham meanwhile have had a far more disappointing campaign, but will be relishing playing the role of spoilers to NTU’s party. Lop-sided early season losses were anticipated, but a 33-16 defeat to Northampton was not what Nottingham had in mind. They notched their first win of the season before Christmas, beating Leicester 24-16 in OT, and definitely have the potential to run with the Renegades should they tighten up defensively and get their passing game going.
I can see there being plenty of points on the scoreboard in this one – with both offences putting up yards both on the ground and in the air. Ultimately though this is NTU’s game to lose, if they can keep clear heads and avoid silly mistakes they should have bragging rights come close of play Sunday.

NTU by 14 (Ed: NTU won 28-0)
Coventry Jets (2-2) vs. #22 Warwick Wolves (3-1)
Warwick have been something of a surprise package at 3-1, only losing once to Birmingham – a game sandwiched between confident wins over Leicester and DMU. Coventry meanwhile are a slightly flattering 2-2, having had the good fortune to play DMU twice mixed with one sided losses to NTU and Birmingham.
I expect this game to play out similar to the Jets’ loss to NTU in week 1, with their offence struggling to get points on the board whilst Warwick score enough to make it a comfortable win.

Warwick by 14
#3 Loughborough Aces (5-0) vs. Lincoln Colonials (1-4)
Unfortunately for Lincoln their lack of a HC caused them to forfeit last week’s game, and the situation will likely mean giving up on the rest of the season. It’s disappointing as they are by no means the worst team in the division and don’t deserve to have to lose out, but should this game have been played it would only have gone one way anyway. Loughborough have been making mincemeat of the likes of Lincoln for season after season, and will be focused on their next two games versus NTU and Birmingham.

(If played) Loughborough by 40 (Ed: Loughborough win 1-0 due to Lincoln forfeiting the game)
Wolverhampton Wildcats (0-3) vs. #1 Birmingham Lions (6-0)
Let’s be clear, there is a 0.00001% chance that this game will be played, and even that hinges on Wolverhampton getting a plane load of North American Students over for the semester. The Wildcats were unable to field a team versus the likes of DMU so the likelihood of them managing to string enough players together to face off against one of the most dominant teams in the league is nigh on impossible.
That proviso aside, were this game to be played it would be nothing short of a massacre – Birmingham don’t let up easily and I’m fairly sure even their 3rd string would out match what Wolverhampton have mustered this season. Undoubtedly there are a core group of hard working individuals amongst the Wildcats, but to continue to forfeit games makes the league and sport look shoddy.

(If played) Birmingham by 80


Leicester Longhorns (1-4) vs. DMU Falcons (0-5)
It may not be the most glamorous tie of the weekend, but this weekend’s battle for Leicester is a huge deal to both teams involved, as for the second season in a row, the Longhorns and Falcons will battle it out in the ‘Gary Lineker Bowl’.

Despite sitting with a 1-4 record, the Longhorns have been in a number of close games this season, most notably their games against NTU, Notts and Lincoln, and had a few plays come their way, the Longhorns could be sitting with a winning record. Unfortunately though, the Longhorns were unable to pull out the goods and the best they can now hope for is a 4-4 season. A victory over DMU would be the best start to the New Year.

Oh boy, to say it’s a bad season for DMU is an understatement. At least they managed to put some points on the board last week. Shame they also conceded 40 at the same time to drop their fifth straight game of the season...With nothing to play for except pride, we’re hoping the Falcons finally put a decent showing in this season.

Longhorns by 21
SWAC
Exeter Demons (1-2) vs. #14 Plymouth Blitz (3-1)
Coming off their first win of the season, a 67-0 thumping of the Worcester Royals that occurred before the Christmas break, the Exeter Demons will no doubt be high in confidence coming into their match at home against the Plymouth Blitz.
The Blitz though, ranked 3rd in the SWAC and with a game in hand on the 2nd ranked UWE Bullets with whom they are tied for wins, will not be in the mood for compromises.
However, the Demons will draw comfort from the memory of taking the Bullets to a 21-14 loss at their home ‘field’ in week 3 and will be unlikely to be a pushover.
Though Exeter will most likely feature their tricky double wing package the Blitz averaging 33 points a game on offence should still be able to comfortably outscore the Demons and keep the Demons in check.

Plymouth by 14.
Bath Spa Bulldogs (0-4) vs. #9 Bath Killer Bees (4-0)
Being their first home game of the season the Bath Spa Bulldogs will have been looking forward to their match this weekend.
It is however against the SWAC leading, undefeated Bath Killer Bees. Oh, forgot to mention, it’s a local grudge match as well.
With the game being a ‘derby’ matchup between the two Bath teams the outright underdog Bath Spa team will no doubt be up for it and are sure put up a spirited fight.
However, bringing the worst ranked points defence in the SWAC (42 pts, per game average) that in its last match before the Christmas break conceded 54 against the 9th SWAC ranked Swansea Titans, expect the Bulldogs to be held firmly on the leash by the Killer Bees.

Killer Bees by more than three scores.

Gloucestershire Gladiators (2-1) vs. Worcester Royals (0-3)
The game that used to be a local wooden spoon bowl has turned into quite a different monster this year, with Gloucestershire exceeding all expectations whilst Worcester carry on much as they have done previously. Worcester and Cheltenham (yes, they don’t play in Gloucester) are only separated by 25 miles of the M5, but the gulf between these two teams is much wider than that. 

Gloucestershire haven’t played since November 18th, so rustiness could become a factor after such a long break away from the field. Worcester face a long run of rescheduled fixtures, which will supposedly contain midweek games so will need to get up and winning now, else potentially face yet another run of negative results before their season finale against Bath Spa. Worcester will up their game for Varsity, but I still see Gloucestershire coming away with a solid victory.

Gloucestershire by 14.

Swansea Titans (1-3) vs. Tarannau Aberystwyth (2-1)
This one could well be a close one! Whilst Aber’s 2-1 record is superior to Swansea’s 1-3 tally, due to their respective schedules I actually feel that these teams are very close to each other in ability. Given the long Christmas break and weather postponements there will be flakes of rust flying on every play of the game, and the victor will probably be the one that deals best with coming back into football. 

Aber will want this badly, with a win giving them a sweep of the Welsh SWAC sides. Likewise, Swansea will also want to assert their dominance over a side they have had recent success against. I think that this game will be decided by one score either way, and my prediction is that it will go in favour of the Titans, though an Aber win would certainly not shock anybody.

Swansea by one score.

TVC

#12 Portsmouth (3-1) vs #18 Solent (3-2)
The #12 Destroyers would have had TVC title aspirations coming out of 2013 undefeated, albeit having only played two games through postponement and forfeits. Last weekend seemed to indicate the true strength of the #12 Destroyers, losing to their fellow South Coastians, (South Coastites? South Coastions?) the #19 Brighton Tsunami, in a truly abysmal game of football plagued by poor handling of the football and warranted penalties.

Solent have shown they have the wherewithal to beat the poor teams of the TVC, beating both Surrey and the Oxford Lancers with score lines that don't belong in football, but have struggled when they've come to play teams in-and-around their level, losing to Kingston and OBU, both winnable in the eyes of Solent.

Portsmouth should consider this game as the most important in the regular season. Win it and they have a possibility of facing their biggest rivals, the #4 Southampton Stags, with a 6-1 record in the final week of the season.. Lose it and Solent will jump-frog them in the league table, causing a congested race for the playoffs amongst these two teams and Kingston. Expect a defensive performance and a tight Redhawk win.

Solent by 8

OBU Panthers (1-3) vs. Oxford Lancers (0-3)
This may be a local derby, making it a rivalry by default, but don't expect these two teams to have the collective confidence or ability in themselves to produce any football that can be described as hard-fought, dazzling, elegant, physical or coherent. 

The Oxford Lancers are, understandably, not a good outfit. Hardly any first year team would be that can rarely kit up more than 15 players. At least Oxford players know that they go to Oxford, so have a sense of superiority that can't be rivalled by any amount of silver trophies with Neil Reynolds carved into them.

OBU impressed last year. Having the number one defence in the TVC and reaching the playoffs with a 6-1-1 record. They have had impressive moments this year too, barely losing to BNU and beating the #18 Solent Redhawks. However, there final game of 2012, a 41-6 loss to the #4 Stags, confirmed they are not last year’s team by letting Southampton Rush for over 350 yards and average over 10 yards a carry.

OBU can count themselves lucky that a shadow of their last year team will still win handily over the Lancers.

OBU by 10.

#15 Kingston Cougars (4-1) vs. Surrey Stingers (0-4)
Phil De Monte got his boys to number 15 in our Christmas power rankings. A feat any coach should be proud of with a team in their first competitive season. They are in prime position for a wildcard playoff spot and, if they continue to win, maybe the TVC title if someone can trip up the #4 Stags in the season run in.

Surrey should provide them with no threat.  They may have pushed undefeated Brighton hard, but conceding 128 points and only scoring 8 in three games shows the direction this game is headed.

Kingston by 40+

Reading Knights (1-3) vs. BNU Buccaneers (2-2)
These two teams may share a home field, but the style of football played on the slightly slanted pitch at Reading University varies a great deal. BNU are physical and proud of it. Their defence knows how to hit and their double wing offence will leave your linemen bruised and hoping to face a spread offence next week. Which is exactly what Reading play. The loss of their entire coaching staff and QB Ed Hopkins means that their spread is not as lethal as it could be.

These are two middle-of-the-pack teams in the TVC. Reading is at 1-3 and BNU is at 2-2. Unless BNU win out and have a bunch of other results go their way, they know they will not be playing championship playoff football later this year. Reading would need to win the majority of their games left to even be in with a shot of plate playoff spot.

Reading are not the same team as they were last year, they have lost their impetus with their starting QB leaving and have probably found it hard, as any team would, to replace an entire coaching staff. BNU are a well drilled, disciplined team and will dominate the line of scrimmage all day.

BNU by 15

#19 Brighton Tsunami (3-0) vs. #4 Southampton Stags (5-0)

Any other year I would have shrugged this off as a closer than Southampton vs. Surrey fixture but still a sure win for Southampton, however, Brighton stand at 4-0, probably the best start to a season in the clubs history. Unfortunately for Brighton, Southampton aren't the Surrey's or Royal Holloway's of the division, they are the cream of the crop and have been for some time in the TVC (let's forget about that iffy 4-4 year!).

Brighton might run it a little closer than usual, but I expect the same outcome.

Southampton by 5 scores.


SEC

Essex Blades (2-3) vs. #11 UEA Pirates (4-0)
The Blades have been a disappointment up to Christmas; however they have bounced back a little with a win over KCL. UEA are on a roll and I would say they are the most likely team to take the second playoff spot after Herts. 

UEA’s run game will prove unstoppable against Essex who run a 30 front, so expect lots of 2 and 3 hole runs. UEA’s OL play has improved this year, and with 2 GB Lion RBs in their backfield (and the GB Lions RB coach), expect for them to keep it on the ground.
UEA by 4 scores.

Greenwich Mariners (1-2) vs. # 2 Hertfordshire Hurricanes (5-0)
I remember a time not so many years ago when Greenwich pulled out the regular season upset on Herts. That was a long time ago. Greenwich are no longer the all-encompassing London University recruitment powerhouse they once were.

Herts played against Watford this weekend for fun, and just to fit in some more competitive games. I fear they won’t get much of a contest on this one.
Herts by 60+

LSBU Spartans (0-3) vs. KCL Regents (1-3)
Two winless teams with nothing left to play for but pride. Hardly the makings of a classic match in the SEC, this Toilet Bowl of a game carries no importance other than deciding who will avoid the wooden spoon when the season concludes.

The LSBU Spartans were a surprise package last year, yet so far have only served to disappoint. They’ve displayed athleticism and raw talent across the board but have come undone against the more experienced and organized teams populating the SEC, conceding a -78 points difference so far, the worst in the conference.

KCL have hardly been much more impressive, but have managed to bring their games into close contention, conceding a 10-6 loss to Imperial and a 19-18 loss to the Canterbury Chargers.

These two bottom-of-the-rung teams don’t have much separating them, yet the KCL Regents have forced their games right to the very edge of victory and they must be desperately hungry to finally achieve that elusive first victory.

KCL by 6

Imperial Immortals (2-2) vs. Canterbury Chargers (1-3)
For the Immortals, this may well be their last opportunity to enter the play-offs by improving on their 2-2 record. For the Chargers the matter is a little bit more desperate, their 1-3 record has them rooted in the clustered centre of the SEC and nothing but an undefeated run to close out the season can give them any hope.

The Imperials winning record and tighter loss to the UEA Pirates would suggest their superiority, as would their bigger winning margin over the Regents, yet the Chargers will have the added impetus of desperation driving their performance. Factor in recruitment and changes in player personnel, who knows what may have changed between these two teams.

Still, on paper the Immortals appear the stronger team and with little else to go on an Immortals win seems logical but by the narrowest of margins. 6 or less.


Cambridge Pythons (2-1) vs. ARU Rhinos (1-2)
The battle of Cambridge takes place this weekend when the Cambridge Pythons take on the ARU Rhinos. PHD’s at the ready, its number crunching time!

If I was a Pythons player, I’d be looking forward to the second half of the season. Not only are they entering 2013 with a winning record, they can now expect an influx of rugby players to add depth to the team and could potentially make the playoffs in just their second season. Not bad for a team whose average IQ is more than their points scored/conceded combined.

With one win already under their belt, the Rhinos have done more in their rookie season than some teams have ever done in their BUAFL history. Now, in just their fourth game in the teams history, they have the chance of upsetting their local rival to claim the title of ‘best University team in Cambridge’. Granted, it’s not the best title in the world, but it’s better than losing and having no title!

Pythons by 10

3 comments:

  1. I would just like to respond to the unnecessary comment on Reading's " slight slanted" pitch. In 2012 the Berkshire Renegades came second in the John Salvin award 2012 - playing on Reading's Bulmershe Pitch. I am no expert on such matters but I think it would suggest it is one of the best pitches at University level. Such comments I think display the quality of journalism that is produced by Double Coverage. ( To see the BAFANL report on the John Salvin Award -http://www.bafra.org/info/press/2012/BAFANL2012.pdf )

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  2. Think you owe the Wildcats an apology, its also irresponsible to write things you clearly know nothing about.

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  3. It recieved a John Slavin award....... it's also slightly slanted. It can have both.

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