Only three games taking place across the second tier this weekend, with the SFC deciding to take the week off completely. Can the Rams continue their charge to overtake the Titans? Will the Bulls avoid a season finale, relegation deciding game against Coventry?
Manchester Titans vs Yorkshire Rams
WELL HUSH MY MOUTH! I’ve repeatedly written in my predictions this year that Manchester would go undefeated. Not so! The Rams put a halt to that dream a fortnight ago on a Saturday evening game in Leeds.
Manchester will have been stung by that result and will want some immediate revenge here, but with the Rams still able to take the top spot on head to head record if they win out don’t look for an easy game!
The Yorkshire side will be buoyed by the result and will look to capitalise, hoping to gain the advantage going into the final stretch.
What a story that would be. But I don’t think it’ll be so. I think the Titans regain some pride and take the conference title this weekend. Manchester Titans to win.
West Coast Trojans vs Newcastle Vikings
The Trojans have struggled through the year with small numbers, showing last week as they were 50-burgered by the Doncaster Mustangs, the team they’re propping up in the conference. Division Two could suit them well as they look to rebuild.
But as disappointing as the Trojans’ year has been is equal to how impressive the Vikings’ year has been.
I’m not going to lie, I had them as favourites to go back down to Division Two from what is a difficult conference, but they’ve excelled and picked up results. With some development they could be real contenders next year. For now, they’ll take this game with ease. Newcastle Vikings to win.
Birmingham Bulls vs Sandwell Steelers
The Bulls have steadily been growing in confidence as the season has progressed, with two confident performances against Leicester (before eventually being worn down by the flying Falcons) sandwiching a crucial victory over Coventry.
HC Mark Pagett has the defense swarming to the ball at every opportunity, a hallmark of the Bulls’ defense for many a year. But importantly, the offense is now beginning to stay on the field for longer, grinding out drives to tire out the opposition.
Sandwell meanwhile, know that they have to win out and hope other results go their way if they want to qualify for the post-season. The 0-41 trouncing of Coventry – a week removed from a far closer margin of victory over the Jets – will have given the Tipton outfit the confidence that they can do their job in the run in, with the defense posting it’s first shutout since facing the Bulls in April.
I very nearly went with a Bulls upset this weekend. But instead, I’m plumping for the result that leads to the most potential drama as we enter the final stages of the regular season. Steelers win to set up a crucial game versus Nottingham, with a Bulls defeat meaning they need to avoid defeat by 5 or more points to the Jets in their final game to stay in Division One.