Friday, 8 March 2013

National Championship Predictions

Stirling Clansmen vs. Birmingham Lions

Our writers unanimously picked Birmingham, however I think this game is less of the foregone conclusion that it might appear to many to be (judging by the perceived weakness of the Saltire division by many). Birmingham hammered Leeds Met in the wild card round, and seemed to dominate on all sides of the ball, scoring on O and D. However, rumours have been flying about an injury to star QB Tristan Varney, with news of apparent reinjury to his knee being rife. While its not possible to know until Sunday whether he will play or not, his absence could hamper the team somewhat. That being said, they got to the final last year without him, and they have plenty of backups on the team to take his mantle and make plays.

Stirling have been posting scores this season that have some people shifting uncomfortably in their seat. Grant Isdale scored numerous touchdowns for Team Europe at Houston, and they have depth all across the board. I think the Clansmen will be very much looking forward to getting their teeth into this game, but their lack of experience against quality opposition (especially along the OL and DL) might hamper them significantly.

Prediction – Tough one, but we think the Lions will edge it.

Hull Sharks vs. Bath Killer Bees

Bath pulled out the biggest upset since David beat Goliath in the bible! Seems some people were genuinely upset too, with a 4th and 33 being converted being somewhat reminiscent of Ray Rice against the San Diego Chargers this year (ok, it was a pass interference penalty, but let’s ham it up). Bath are now turned from the underdogs to the favourites by our writers, with only Rich and Piachaud going for Hull over the Killer Bees. 

Hull are somewhat less impressive than some other conference champions in the posting of their scores, but they are still deserved of the position, and this should turn out to be a great game. I think the question must be, how can they stop spectators eyes bleeding with the kits on show?

Prediction – Hull to rely on home field advantage and win by a score.

Derby Braves vs. Portsmouth Destroyers

Could we all be having déjà vu from two years ago. The Destroyers post a quiet season, then really start to pick it up post season, with Hell week (4 games in a week) out of the way, and sweeping aside (albeit not easily at 22-18) TVC rivals Kingston, they are now well and truly on the path to the final. The advantage for a predictor in the wild card round is you can judge the relative strength of a conference based on the outcome of a game between two cross conference opponents. As Portsmouth played someone in the TVC, it’s incredibly hard to tell how they might fare outside of the conference, and on the road, especially against a team like Derby.

Now, call me old school, but the old adage used to be that the South was better than the North at football, no matter what. Although the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th seed are all held by Northern teams! Also, having seen film, it seems they have learned to throw up there too! Perhaps this is why Hallam’s double wing has been less effective this year, although Saul’s turncloak may have more to do with it!

Derby, horrible uniforms aside, look good this year, and the Destroyers must be somewhat exhausted from so much football! Only Luke (repping the TVC) thought the Destroyers would pull out the win on this one.

Prediction – Derby win this by a score.

Hertfordshire Hurricanes vs. Sheffield Sabres

The champion fixture. National champs vs Challenge champs. Sheffield have impressed this year, scoring lots, and conceding few, and if they were going into any other fixture than this, I’m sure there would be something more to be said about their possibility of victory, especially given how easily they dispatched SWAC champs UWE. However, they are playing the only remaining purple people eater team, Hertfordshire. Firstly, I’m sure the Hurricanes are Killer Bee fans allowing them to avoid Loughborough (a fixture that is always tasty). Secondly, the Herts offence has been on fire this year scoring 440, and their D only conceding 33.

I really wish I could dish out an upset prediction here if only because the Sabres have finally emerged from the Warriors shadow and are a real force, but this Hurricane is blowing all the way to the final say DC towers.

Prediction – Herts to run away with this one.

Challenge Trophy Predictions

Southampton Stags vs. Manchester Tyrants

I had the pleasure of scouring the internet for score updates on Manchester/Kent last week, and in fact I fleeced myself after someone incorrectly reported the scores based on the seedings that I had posted, and I thought this was a score! Fool to me, this game actually went into 2OT with both teams scoring! In the end, possibly the gutsiest call a coach can make, go for 2. It was a tense 2 minutes sitting at the keyboard, but Manchester scored the 2pt and went through (seems odd both teams scored twice in OT when they didn’t the rest of the game).

Southampton are probably not exactly happy with how their season has panned out. Losing to Brighton in such a close fought game (3-2) more reminiscent of a soccer score than football, and then losing out to bitter south coast rivals Portsmouth, the mood must have been a little dark in the changing room come the end of the season. However, they have the opportunity to still seal some silverware, and are probably one of the favourite to do so, our writers certainly think so.

Prediction – Stags to win by two scores

Warwick Wolves vs. Leeds Celtics

No offence to Edinburgh intended, and they have themselves admitted they were surprised to be in the post season, but can you really call playing a 2-4-2 record team a playoff game? This week is the real playoff game. Warwick have emerged this year with a tough D, however the offensive production has been somewhat lacking. This is the first game which has been a little more undecided from our writers with Willy and Simon both choosing Leeds, but can the Celtics tame the Wolves?

Prediction – Warwick edge this one by less than seven.

#TeamPHD vs. NTU Millergades

NTU may wear pink, but they handed the Pirates a good old fashioned pummelling in the wild card round, they will be running high off that impressive win. Sometimes a bye week can serve to lose focus or momentum as opposed to helping, and it could be a case of this happening this week, with NTU riding high as opposed to having extra week training.

Cambridge also beat UEA during the regular season; however the score was a little less impressive. In DCs opinion it boils down to one thing with NTU, if you want a chance to win, you have to stop Danny Miller, who consistently makes plays through the air and ground. Although even if you manage to stop Miller you need to score against a tough, blitz heavy, offence. Perhaps the Pythons can compute their way round this one, but our writers don’t think so (Pikachu has a vested interest). We will look forward to seeing this encounter through InkSpot next week!

Prediction – Expect some highlights next week as NTU leave Cambridge with the ‘W’!

Glasgow Tigers vs. BNU Buccaneers

Let’s face it, such a long journey is perfect for a team named after Pirates. Swash buckling along the M1, they aim to plunder ye olde treasure protected by exotic Tigers. BNU brought it close with Gloucester, with their Doublewing pushing through in the second half, a very physical offence that is hard to stop for all four quarters. Gloucester will most likely be kicking themselves for not being able to contain them.

The tigers on the other hand pose a different kind of conundrum, some definitive wins against the other teams in the Saltire, but some severe beatings by Stirling pose a real thought provoker. Will Glasgow show the rest of the league the Saltire means business by pulling out a win? All of our writers say no, but we’ve been wrong before!

Prediction – BNU run wild and win by two scores

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