Turning our attention to Division One, there are only 6 games across the conferences this weekend, but plenty of playoff/relegation implications!
West Coast Trojans vs Newcastle Vikings
Well it’s yet to be confirmed but it looks as if the Trojans could finally have picked up a win in the conference, due to an admin error meaning Doncaster couldn’t travel to fulfil last weekend’s fixture. Not the way the Scotsmen would’ve wanted to pick up the result I’m sure, and they’ll want to go out and prove that they’re not the whipping boys this weekend.
But it’ll be tough. Newcastle have been more than competitive since being promoted from Division Two and mixed it up amongst the chasing pack.
The two teams met just a few short weeks ago, with the Vikings coming out on the right side of an impressive 60-0 turnover. Even factoring in extra time to adjust and train and the fact that it will be the Newcastle side that has to travel this time, it is highly unlikely that the Trojans have improved enough to turn around that kind of result. Newcastle Vikings to win.
Nottingham Caesars vs Coventry Jets
It’s probably about time I give the Caesars the credit they deserve for the season so far. Especially since their Defensive Coordinator messaged me after the win over Sandwell simply saying “Sorry, not sorry” for ruining my prediction.
In a game reminiscent of the 2016 DC Game of the Year against the Bulls, the Caesars mounted a second half comeback before stealing the win with seconds left on the clock. With Sandwell looking for the deep ball for a quick reply, ball-hawk Rob Hardwick came down with the game sealing interception.
At 6-0, the Caesars can’t take their eyes off the ball. Back-to-back games against Leicester follow the Jets match this weekend, and Nottingham will want to enter those games in full stride.
Coventry are staring at a second consecutive relegation following their winless start to the campaign. At 0-5, they sit at the foot of the conference due to the Bulls superior PPGA, owing in no small part to the Jets’ huge 71-0 loss to Sandwell earlier in the season.
The Caesars came away with 20-13 and 13-6 wins in the two games between the sides so far this season. History will repeat itself…Caesars to move to 7-0.
Leicester Falcons vs Sandwell Steelers
For the first time this season, the Falcons failed to score on their opening drive in the 30-0 win over Birmingham Bulls at the weekend. A stout Bulls defense held firm for much of the opening half, with Leicester taking an 8-0 lead in to the break courtesy of a 32 yard pass from QB Jackson to Dan Burton and a successful two point attempt converted by Tolu Ogundana.
Leicester found their form in the second half as they began to pull away, continuing their run of putting up at least 30 points in every game this season. With two games against the conference topping Caesars still to come, Leicester will be focused on keeping up the pressure on Nottingham.
Sandwell began moving the ball well against the Caesars last week, with RB James Jones-Cross finding holes and grinding out yards before punching the ball home for the opening score of the day. Jones-Cross finished the day with 23 runs for 75 yards and a score.
The injury to QB Callum Davidson in the second quarter – we’re hearing he’s done for the season – hurt the offense coming out of halftime as the Caesars mounted their incredible comeback. OC David Buler has faith in his young QB duo of Joe Reynolds (who stepped in after Callum’s injury) and Stephen Yates, one of whom will be tasked with leading the offense for the rest of the 2017 campaign, but games are a different beast to training so it’ll be interesting to see how they cope with the level of competition they’ll face from here on in.
They won’t get a hattrick of shutouts, but Leicester will take home the win to stay hot on the tail of the Caesars in the NFC1 South.
Sussex Thunder vs Ouse Valley Eagles
Can anybody stop the rolling Thunder? Having been run close in their third matchup against the Saints it looked like they had finally figured out the formula required to halt the league topping behemoth, but close isn’t good enough. Only the Eagles have yet to try their luck against the Brighton based side, will they be able to succeed this weekend where all others have failed?
The Eagles won last weekend against the South Wales Warriors by a mere three point margin. With a chance to extend that lead with a late game field goal, they elected not to take the risk unlike another team in the SFC1. This is the penultimate away game for the Eagles as they travel to the sunny south coast to face their toughest opposition yet, and they’ll need to bring their best performance to date if they don’t want to get burned by more than the sun.
With the Eagles struggling against even the weaker teams and Sussex dominating in all three phases of the game there’s only one way this game goes. Sussex continue the push for an unbeaten season and add another W to their record.
Solent Thrashers vs South Wales Warriors
Almost guaranteed a trip down to the ignobility of Division Two football next year, the Warriors should be looking to get a consolation victory at the least before the season is over. Holding the Eagles to just three points is a feat the defense should be proud of, but it’s just not enough if the offense isn’t able to generate any points of their own. The team will need to avoid any finger pointing or infighting as they face the second of three long away journeys in back to back weeks.
Solent struggled to move the ball last weekend, with half of their drives resulting in 3 and outs. A late game aerial attack wasn’t enough to get them within touching distance of the Saints, but as they host the struggling Warriors this weekend they should have much more success. If the offense can sustain their drives and keep the defense resting on the sideline they should be looking to repeat the shut out from the last time they hosted the Warriors in Week Five.
Again South Wales need to get the win, but once again it doesn’t look likely. The Thrashers look set to end up mid table and will have no trouble handling the Warriors.
Colchester Gladiators vs London Olympians
So here we go again….
Olympians Vs Gladiators: Part 3. Just 2 weeks will have passed since the Olympians last dismantled the struggling Gladiators when this one kicks off. Unable to score, or stop the Os from scoring; the Gladiators will be throwing everything at the London side this weekend; Kitchen sink included. Having played the Os twice already this season, the Gladiators should have a good understanding of what the Os have in their arsenal and will feel confident that they can go and steal their first win of the season.
The Olympians seem to have found their feet though in the SFC1 South. With another shot against each of their four conference opponents, the Olympians have their fate completely in their own hands. Win out, and they’ll make playoffs. With the sides rookie dominated roster starting to understand the nuances of the game, they are going for strength to strength. As my way too early pick for the conference, I’m really begging to see a Thunder/Olympians playoff game: it will be fire!
“Olympians, you will go on my first whistle. Gladiators, you will… urm… Gladiators?” Olympians win.