Week Eleven is here, and we kick off proceedings with Division Two as always. It’s prediction time!
Morecambe Bay Storm vs Knottingley Raiders
The two rookie sides in the division face off for the first time, one riding high with a winning record at the halfway stage, the other picking up just the one (emphatic) win in their five games so far.
It has been a storming start to National League life for Morecambe Bay, who have only suffered defeat at the hands of the two division powerhouses. Gateshead destroyed Morecambe Bay in Week 4 with a 74-6 drubbing. Last time out was a chance to see how much they’ve improved against the play-off calibre Leeds Bobcats. They ran the division contenders in close early with QB Chris Mayne having a good day with two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns to WR Mark Baldwin. The trigger man ended with 356 total purpose yards, a fine performance against the then ranked #3 scoring defence in the National League. Defensively they struggled against the Leeds powerful offence, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Meanwhile, Week 10 was a ‘Welcome to Britball’ moment for the Knottingley Raiders as the Gateshead Senators taught them a footballing lesson in their 72-6 drubbing. The Raiders need to forget about that performance as the Senators have been doing that against pretty much everyone this season. The worrying sign for the Raiders is that their Facebook page has suggested low numbers (a worrying theme in the NFC 2 Central) in the defeat, will the demoralising scoreline put some players off a long trip to Morecambe? Hopefully they put in a better display this weekend.
I have to go with Morecambe Bay in this one, their performance against Leeds was arguably the best of the season in a strange way.
Leeds Bobcats vs Carlisle Sentinels
Well that was closer than I expected, Leeds #3 ranked defence going into the game against Morecambe Bay gave up more points in four quarters (26), than it had in their first four games (24). Good job that #4 ranked offence scored 44 more points to keep the Bobcats undefeated at 6-0. RB Tom Dunning scampered for a pair of scores with fellow backfield mate Paul Goodward also finding the endzone twice. I, like a lot at DC Towers, are waiting for that Week 18 matchup where the Gateshead Senators take on the Leeds Bobcats, until then it’s a case of ‘Just Win Baby’ for the Yorkshiremen.
Carlisle find themselves in a race of their own to avoid the wooden spoon in the division. Their last result was a 68-0 defeat at the hands of Gateshead, with talk of the Sentinels sending a sub-20 squad to the North East two weeks ago. If that was too far for some of the squad to travel, a trip to Leeds will be as equally daunting. They’ll point out the 6-18 defeat to Leeds in Week 5 shows they can mix it with the big boys in the division.
For me, Carlisle need to concentrate on the Week 15 and Week 18 matchups against the Northumberland Lightning as their most likely victories, as both sides are struggling with life in the NFC 2 Central this season. A 50 burger and a big victory for the Leeds Bobcats this weekend, as they move to 7-0.
Chester Romans vs Staffordshire Surge
An interesting top of the table clash in the NFC 2 South starts things off this week as the third placed Surge travel to Chester to take on the second place Romans. These two teams have already played each other earlier in the year with Chester coming away from Staffordshire with the spoils in a 43-16 victory.
Chester will be looking for a repeat performance as they look to keep pace with the surging Revolution. They’ll want to win this game to set up a top of the table decider with the Revolution week 14 of the season. The Chester offense maintains its juggernaut status this season. Boyed by a strong offensive line that many in the division have found tough to break down, the Romans have stormed their way to many victories by piling on the points. In the majority of their games the Romans have jumped out to an early lead and forced their opponents to play from behind. Its something few teams have been able to match.
The Surge look to be sitting pretty at 3-1 so far this season. A narrow win 2 weeks ago against the Halton Spartans will put them in the driving seat as they chase a possible playoff place. To keep their playoff dreams alive they’ll be looking to take a scalp off the Chester Romans when they come to visit this weekend. Coming into the season I did not have much hope for the Surge and they’ve proved me wrong. Where I thought they would struggle when in fact they’ve done better than my meager expectations of them. This game however might prove a touch too much for them.
I think Chester will have more than enough to beat the Surge to prime themselves for a big week 14 clash with Shropshire.
Crewe Railroaders vs Humber Warhawks
Another game where I have to convince you to pay attention to this game as the two worst teams in the division square up against each other. Well if the last game is anything to go by this one might actually have some excitement in it.
In the previous engagement in week 3 of the season saw the Railroaders score a TD to put themselves one point behind the Warhawks with time running out in the game. Instead of going for the tie, they manned up and attempted to score two points to win the game. A move I very much admire and if they’d have pulled it off they’d be getting plenty of praise for yours truly. Unfortunately for them the attempt was no good and they handed Humber the win. However I have to commend the Railroaders coaching staff for being so courageous. Outside of that not a lot else has been going right for the railroaders. They have yet to win a game and have been shut out in 3 of the previous six encounters.
Life hasn’t been too peachy for the Warhawks either. Outside of the win against the Railroaders the Warhawks have had two 50+ burgers put on them. The only time they’ve put up significant points was against the Lincolnshire Bombers, however by then the game was not in doubt and the Bombers had started to field their backups. With little to no footage of them floating around its difficult to gauge what sort of a side they are.
For this match I’m going to go with the side who showed great testicular fortitude in their previous outing and were unlucky not to come away with the win. As they are at home then they should come away with the win here.
Swindon Storm vs Torbay Trojans
The last time that these two teams met, the Storm gave Torbay the biggest loss of the season at that point. Swindon is currently sitting at a three game winning streak and they would like to add to that number. Similar to last game, Storm will be looking at hitting the end zone with a variety of weapons.
Jurassic Coast Black Knights, Storms’ Rui Rosa had a hell of a game, with three TDs on both the ground and in the air. Nathan Fawcett and Victor Ofeo both shared three touchdowns between them. Impressively, Nathan Fawcett took the ball out of the Raptor Worcestershire QB’s hand for a touchdown. Plymouth Blitz’s Joe Soden showed that he has upgraded the defense again, with an interception against the Knights. Storm have been making a statement of late that they are a different team to the disjointed one of last season, and I can see this continuing throughout the season.
Torbay have finally got a second win, which now means they have now won more games than they had over the previous two seasons. With a mix of talented running backs in Kieran Calvert, Luke Lambrechts and Mike Boraston to choose from, two of whom made it into the endzone last week, Storm may find it more difficult this week to adjust to the range of tempo. In order to find success and cause an upset, Torbay need to change their game plan from the last meet, which Storm found predictable and picked apart. Torbay have the talent on the roster, they just need to think about how best to maximise its potential.
While I think the scoreline won’t be as bad, I feel the Storm are on too much of a hot streak to let the Trojans take this from them. Storm to win.
Worcestershire Black Knights vs Bristol Apache
The dust has settled and Bristol have come out victorious over the Cornish Sharks. While this doesn’t 100% guarantee the conference, it means that it is extremely likely. Interestingly, the 25-7 doesn’t give a very accurate depiction of the day at Filton. Neither offence actually scored until the Apache finally punched it in in the fourth quarter using a dangerous trio of Ed ‘Eagle’ Green, Matthew Hannigan Train and Jon Walters, with Walters having the pleasure of finding 6 points! With a defensive score on punt return from a linebacker for 60 yards; a strip sack from Darius Lynch giving Anthony Larter the opportunity to recover the ball for a 30 yard run to the endzone and add two safeties in the mix, it’s safe to say that the Apache D had a hell of a game! Bristol will be gutted that they had the opportunity to prevent the Sharks from scoring any points, but an errant snap over the QB into the endzone was recovered by an opportunist Sharks player. DC’s Lydon Ward-Best returned to his rightful position at centre to bring back stability. If Apache, in particular their D, play to this intensity every game, they could easily prevent any more touchdowns from future opponents and send shivers down other potential playoff teams’ spines.
The Black Knights come off a bit of a bruising from the Swindon Storm this week. Being the first game that they haven’t scored a touchdown in, they know that something must change in order to have a chance against the bruising Apache D. While the Storm have improved drastically, the Knights helped contribute to their own loss via interceptions, fumbles and weak hands. In order to stop the likes of Apache’s Lynch and Larter, the Knights offensive line needs to tighten up to prevent the sacks their QB endured last week. On the plus side, the two-points indicates a safety; if the Knights use the power they used on this drive against the Bristol O, they may slow their powerful run game.
Apache are on a five game streak after a very impressive win, which they won’t want to lose now. They’ll use this to tweak their offense and continue making a statement. Apache to come away with the win here.
Hastings Conquerors vs Portsmouth Dreadnoughts
After a 2-week break from football has given the Conquerors time to get over the 48-18 loss to the Pumas in week 8. As with all teams, the Conquerors will want to get a win on the board but the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts might not be the team to let them do it.
Chasing down 2nd place, only one game behind the Renegades who beat them in week 9 extending their lead one game further the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts need this win to stay competitive in the tight middle conference. The loss would have hurt the team but this weekend is a good chance to go 4-2 with a Renegades loss take second place.
Portsmouth Dreadnoughts to win, it’s hard to predict otherwise with the numbers on the board as they are.
Maidstone Pumas vs Berkshire Renegades
The Maidstone Pumas collected their first win this season in a 48-18 win in week 8 over the Conquerors to then allow the same number of points in week 9 to the Bobcats. At 1-4 the team will be glad for the win but would have been optimistic to continue their progression before last weekend. Looking forward the Pumas face the Renegades who have just come off of a big win over the Dreadnoughts.
Chasing down the Cheetahs in seconds position the Renegades walked away in week 9, their last game, with a 45-5 win over the Dreadnoughts who are hot on their heels for the second position in the conference. Waiting for a Cheetahs loss, possibly not until week 16 when the two teams face off, the Renegades will want to continue winning and make the jump to first if the gap appears.
Looking at the numbers the Renegades walk away with the win this weekend.
London Blitz B vs Essex Spartans
So here we go. A battle for midtable supremacy. As the weeks go on if the Mavs slip up there could be an interesting scenario for second place or one of the potential third playoff spots.
The Spartans sit average at 2-2 but with more conceded than scored. They need this win to stay above .500 and to stay relevant. This is a replay of the Week Six match up and in that encounter the Blitz came out on top 19-3.
The Spartans are also coming in off the back of a thumping from the Stallions. Let’s hope they stayed healthy to make this game interesting. (Eds: And he gives me Schtick for confusing Apache and Aztecs!)
Despite the Blitz letting me down and not eeking out a drama causing win against the Stallions two weeks ago, I’m backing them to prevail this week. Blitz to Win.
Ipswich Cardinals vs Wembley Stallions
I want to be able to give you some in depth analysis into this game and talk about the complexities of what to expect this weekend.
But I can’t. Despite the Cardinals D being boosted by new DB signing Jack Richards this is going to be a whitewash.
The Stallions are running roughshod over the conference with all of us hoping the Mavs can make it interesting in Week 17. Stallions keep stampeding.