Friday, 15 February 2013

Week Ten BUCS University Predictions pt 1

Saltire Conference

Edinburgh Napier Knights (0-4) vs. #16 Glasgow Tigers (5-1)
Glasgow is already into the playoffs courtesy of last week’s 39-7 win over the Predators which followed a low scoring 6-0 stramash over UWS in the previous week. Which Glasgow team will show up this weekend?
It probably doesn’t matter as they face one of the country’s lowest scoring offenses in the Knights.
The Knights lost season has been a bit of a head scratcher to Saltire observers and it may be that confidence has taken a hit as the losses continue to mount.
Technically the Tigers could still top the division but they’d probably have to average 100 points a game from here on in, or take advantage of Stirling’s backlog of fixtures.
Tigers by 18

UWS Pyro’s (1-3) vs. #6 Stirling Clansmen (4-0)
Ok. I’m confused – wasn’t this game scheduled for last weekend but didn’t go ahead?
As boldly predicted on these pages we suggested this one would fall victim to the weather. We believe the Clansmen tried to reverse the fixture at short notice to no avail. But there remains some confusion as to the outcome of all these postponements. The Clans biggest worry must be how to get their remaining 4 games played in the last 2 weeks of the season. An awarded game of any type may lose any future home field advantage in the playoffs and that would be harsh on a team who has dominated the 1st term but yet to play a down in anger this year.
All of last week’s prediction remains relevant. We’ll even go with the same score line.
Clansmen by 60
North Eastern Conference

Northumbria Mustangs (2-4) vs. Newcastle Raiders (3-3)

A matchup featuring two former Borders Conference teams as the Northumbria Mustangs play host to the resurgent Newcastle Raiders.

Following a trip to the post season in 2012, the Mustangs have been unable to repeat their form of last season as they’ve struggled to cope with the move to the NEC. Now on a two game losing streak, the Mustangs will need to string a couple of wins together to avoid a sub .500 season.

Similar to the Mustangs, the Raiders have gone from playoff football to the possibility of a worse than .500 season. Following an 0-2 start, the Raiders have found their groove as they’ve gone on a 3-1 run that includes a victory over Leeds Carnegie this past weekend. If the Raiders can continue to string a few more results together, the Raiders could steal the #3 spot in the NEC.

Raiders to win by 14

York Centurions (1-3) vs. Leeds Celtics (3-3)

York haven’t had the greatest of starts to 2013 as postponements and a loss to Hull Sharks have affected the Centurions hopes of making the post season. At least with the extra time off due the weather, York should have planned, scouted and fully prepped for this weekend’s game.

Similar to York, the Celtics 2013 has been postponements and losses. Unlike York though, the Celtics have played enough games to have the opportunity to make the post season. With a number of teams in the NEC still in the running for the number three spot, the Celtics will need to be winning games like this.

Celtics by 7

#5 UH Sharks (6-0) vs. Sunderland Spartans (3-3)

Thanks to their unbeaten record (and the Raiders victory over Carnegie), the Hull Sharks are the inaugural winners of the NEC title. Now with the title wrapped up, the Sharks can now turn their attention to gaining an unbeaten record and securing a top spot in the playoff seedings.
Following their mid-week victory over Durham, the Spartans had the weekend off to prepare for this weekend’s game against the unbeaten Sharks. The Spartans will be hoping for a better performance than their 52-14 mauling against the Newcastle Raiders.

Sharks by 21

#25 Bradford Bears (4-3) vs. #19 Leeds Carnegie (4-2)

Game of the week in the NEC features two teams on our writer’s power rankings both vying for a spot in the post season.

Following a narrow 12-8 victory over the winless Teesside, the Bears find themselves in the number two three seed in the NEC, and a victory over Carnegie would take the Bears into the number two spot with minimal games remaining for the other teams in their conference.
The Carnegie’s hopes of winning the NEC title came to an abrupt end when the team lost 20-8 to the Newcastle Raiders. Now, things can get worse for Leeds Met as a loss to the Bears would drop the team to 4-3 and give up the tie-breaker to Bradford. Not the best of times for Carnegie.

Will go to OT most likely...Carnegie to edge it by 6

Teesside Cougars (0-5) vs. Durham Saints (2-2)

In recent years, this would be a game that the Cougars would feel rather confident in with regards to claiming their first win of the season. However, it doesn’t look that way this season as the Saints haven’t been as terrible as previous years, and just like the past few seasons, the Cougars find themselves at the bottom of the conference table without a win to their name.
The Saints on the other hand have performed better than most expected as they now sit with a 2-2 record following their mid-week loss to the Sunderland Spartans. If the Saints can overcome the Cougars this weekend, they’ll claim their third victory of the season. How many thought that would happen before the season began?

Saints to win by 10

Big North Western Conference

#4 Derby Braves (7-0) vs. #24 UCLan Rams (4-2)

Both of these sides entered the Big North Western Conference for the first time this season.

Derby’s win over the Sabres last week saw them retain their undefeated record, which now stands at 7-0. That record is enough to guarantee them a playoff berth, all that needs to be determined now is what ranking they will take into the postseason.

The Rams have fallen away in the last 10 days, after a start to the season which saw them go 3-0, two defeats in the last three games against Hallam and Lancaster has seen them slip to fourth in the conference. Although they will be buoyed by last weekend’s 28-14 win over Huddersfield.

Derby should be too strong for UCLan Rams – Derby by two scores

Bangor Muddogs (1-3) vs. #23 Manchester Tyrants (5-2)

Both of these sides came away from their previous fixtures with victories, but something has to give on Sunday in North Wales.

Bangor’s game last weekend again Staffordshire became the yet another fixture to fall foul of the weather, but their last played fixture yielded a first win of the season for the Muddogs against the Liverpool Fury, by a single score 6-0.

Meanwhile, Manchester strengthened their bid for postseason football with a 12-9 win over the visiting Lancaster Bombers last weekend. That’s four wins on the bounce for the Tyrants, who haven’t lost since they faced the Sabres back in November.

Manchester by two scores

Liverpool Fury (2-3) vs. #9 Sheffield Sabres (6-1)

The Sabres will be looking to get back to winning ways after suffering their first defeat of the season last week, as they lost 14-6 against Derby. Derby effectively sealed the Conference title with that win, but the Sabres have now qualified for the post-season. But need to keep up the pressure on the other conferences to secure a good ranking.

Liverpool were looking to kick on from their most successful season to date. Before the Christmas break they held a 2-2 record after wins over MMU Eagles and Huddersfield Hawks, but a loss against Bangor two weeks ago has left the Fury with a losing record.

Sabres by three scores

Hallam Warriors (2-2) vs. Staffordshire Stallions (1-4)

The Warriors will be encouraged by last week’s 22-8 midweek win over the previously undefeated UCLan Rams. That was their second win of the season and brings them back to .500 for the season. But the Warriors will be disappointed after yet another game was postponed against Liverpool on Sunday.

Staffordshire have not won since mid-November and like the other three teams around them - Bangor, MMU and Lancaster – know that another win will catapult them up the league table.

Hallam by a single score

Lancaster Bombers (1-5) vs. Huddersfield Hawks (2-5)

Both Lancaster and Huddersfield will be looking to bounce back this week after both sides lost to Manchester Tyrants and UCLan Rams respectively.

The Hawks are still a team in transition, but have been one of the most interesting to watch from my point of view. Despite losing to MMU, the Tyrants, Derby and Sheffield the results have improved as the team have gelled and become more comfortable with their double wing offence. In fact two of those games were lost by one score.

Lancaster returned to action with a bang after the winter break with a slender 6-0 win over the previously undefeated UCLan Rams. That win took them off the bottom of the Big North Western Conference. Unfortunately they were unable to follow up that good start to 2013, narrowly losing 12-9 to Manchester Tyrants last week.

A win here can catapult either side up the Conference table - Hawks by two scores


#3 Loughborough Aces (7-0) vs. #1 Birmingham Lions (7-0)
The mac-daddy of all Midlands games (and arguably the entire league) is finally here, and should be another cracking affair. It’s not often we get to witness two teams of this quality go head to head outside of the playoffs, and whilst both should comfortably make the playoffs whatever the result you can bet there will be no letting up from either squad.
Loughborough will gunning to avenge last season’s narrow 21-13 defeat, buoyed this year by home field advantage, whereas Birmingham (whilst having all eyes set on another chance at the national title) know that their fierce rivals will be no small road-bump, fostering title ambitions of their own.
Normally in football when two strong teams face off we try and look at common opponents to give us a clue as to who has the edge, but when both teams usually have their backups in by at least the 3rd quarter this can be misleading. Really the only side either have played this season that have put up much of a fight are NTU, who the Lions beat 38-7 and Loughborough 24-7.
Birmingham rested some starters from the outset in their week 8 blow-out of Wolverhampton (who did to their credit manage to get points on the Lions in the 60-6 result), so should be as fresh as possible with what has essentially been back to back bye weeks for their key men. Loughborough meanwhile benefited from a Colonials forfeit in week 8 but are coming off their tougher game with NTU last week. Time will tell whether their momentum or their opponent’s time to take stock will be more beneficial, but I’m sure the Lions will have used their fortnight of preparation very wisely.
With the victor essentially guaranteed the MAC title you can be sure we’re in for a thrilling affair, but one that Birmingham will likely edge.
Birmingham by a score
Northampton Nemesis (3-3) vs. #15 NTU Renegades (4-2)

Having vanquished one Nottingham side this season, Northampton host NTU as they look to continue thier solid sophmore season. However, the Pink brigade from Clifton will provide a very different - and much sterner - proposition that their cross-city rivals.

#15 NTU had #3 Loughborough worried last weekend, battling injuries in key positions to put up a good fight in terrible conditions. Danny Miller must be a serious injury concern for the Renegades, but they should still have enough to see off Northampton, even without their scholar quarterback.

The Nemesis will give a good showing of themselves, but NTU will be too strong.

NTU by three scores

Nottingham Outlaws (2-4) vs. #18 Warwick Wolves (4-1)

Candidates for "Biggest Underachiever" award this season, Nottingham find themselves at a crossroads coming into this weekend's game. 4-4 is certainly a possibility - something that could be seen as a triumph given how they've played at times in 2012/13 - but that would involve them beating a resurgent Warwick side.

The Wolves had their game postponed last weekend, and remain 4-1 pending a rearrangement. With the loss of Derby and Nottingham's poor season, they have eased nicely into the MAC's top four, and should have too much for the Outlaws on Sunday.

Nottingham's ugly points conceded record could take more of a battering, but they can at least hope to get on the board this time out.

Warwick by two scores

Leicester Longhorns (2-5) vs Wolverhampton Wildcats (0-4)

Another close(ish) loss for Leicester suggests that they aren't far from breaking into the top half of what is usually considered to be a tough division. They probably deserve more than their two wins, and can expect just that as they welcome wooden spoon favourites Wolverhampton.

The Wildcats have had more bad luck than most when it comes to the weather - their scheduled game last Sunday was called off at a very late stage - but have failed to impress the two times they have stepped on the field. Still, they did score against Birmingham...

This won't be as close as Leicester's games usually are, but won't quite be the blowout that could be reasonably expected

Leicester by four scores (Ed: Game postponed due to an unplayable pitch)

1 comment:

  1. Sorry could you explain how York can't make the post season. They are getting a walkover against Durham....


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