There’s still plenty to play for in the bottom tier, as the regular season begins to wind down. It’s prediction time!
Clyde Valley Blackhawks vs Aberdeen Roughnecks
Finally my predictions have started to take shape, just as the season is almost done in Scotland! Glasgow took the win over Aberdeen at the weekend to secure the conference title, an excellent start for their new HC! Now the two teams playing on Sunday need to tighten up if they want any hope of a playoff spot and with only 5 games left in the whole slate, it’s time to go to work. Aberdeen are at 4-3 and can theoretically finish 6-3. CVB are at 2-4 and could make it to 5-4, so in order for CVB to take second spot, they need to clean up in their two meetings with Aberdeen (who they beat 34-13 in their opener) and beat Dumfries who they are currently 1-1 against.
It’s not inconceivable but Aberdeen are the form team of the pair and it’s a big ask. This weekend sees the Roughnecks travel to Wishaw to play a team who started 2-0 but have since gone on a 4-game losing streak.
It’s likely to be close again. It I think Aberdeen will finish CV’s hopes of playoff football in their first year back in the league with a win.
Carlisle Sentinels vs Knottingley Raiders
The Sentinels moved to 0-6 with a 33-7 reverse at the hands of the Walney Terriers last week and have quick turnaround as they welcome Knottingley to town. The positive is they did score a touchdown, having mustered only 12 points all season up until last weekend. It’s fair to say they’ve had a brutal schedule to this point with two games against Gateshead, two against Leeds and one against Morecambe Bay. They now face Knottingley (maybe twice, anyone know when the week 3 game will be replayed?) and Northumberland twice, we’ll soon see if the Sentinels can put some wins in the column. They’ll have to improve on offence though as they currently have the 2nd worst scoring unit in Britball after the West Coast Trojans.
Knottingley have had found it tough going in the National League, but they have picked up that first year win that so many teams fail to do. Last time out they suffered defeat at the hands of Morecambe Bay 46-22, but like many of their games this year they showed some fight and put points on the board which will bode them well as they build as a club. The Raiders are 1-5, and realistically their two remaining games (if both are played) against Carlisle are their last opportunities to pick up a victory.
This is an intriguing matchup in a division that has been fairly predictable to this point. I’m going to take Knottingley as their offence has scored points against everyone not named Leeds and Gateshead.
Leeds Bobcats vs Morecambe Bay Storm
Leeds have had a nice three weeks off since defeating the Sentinels 52-7, and have taken over as the #1 offence in Britball as the Gateshead Senators only mustered 20 points against Walney. At 7-0 play-offs are pretty much a certainty, especially with a game against Knottingley still to come, but this is no gimme against the Morecambe Bay Storm. Should they overcome this matchup, at Week 18 date against the Gateshead Senators will crown the king of the division, which could be one of the best games of the season throughout the National Leagues.
The Storm, meanwhile, were only treated to half a game last time out as they beatdown the Northumberland Lightning 44-0. The Lightning ended up with only 15 fit players remaining, but the Storm did a professional job. QB Chris Mayne ran in for three scores, adding two more in the air with Dion Feather and Mark Baldwin, RB Danny McLennan adding a sixth score with a short run. The Storm’s media page has declared this a winning season, hold your horses lads, you need another win for a winning season. With Leeds and Gateshead next on the schedule it could come down to their week 17 trip to Knottingley to decide if it’s a winning campaign or not.
Saying that, the Storm are capable of upsetting one of the big two, not sure it’ll be this week however, Leeds win.
Shropshire Revolution vs Chester Romans
A couple of weeks ago this matchup was pegged as the game that was going to decide the division. Now, after The Romans lost to the Surge the glamour has somewhat disappeared from the tie. However this remains an important clash for each of the teams involved.
This will be Chester’s first outing since narrowly losing out to the Surge. It was reported that the Romans were not at full strength when they played the Surge, however they will still be disappointed with that result. They will have wanted to beat the Surge to have maintained pace with the Revolution, but now if they want to win the division then they’ll have to rely on results going their way in other games. Winning the division will be a much tougher but not impossible, of course the first task is beating the Revolution. If the same squad that turned up to the narrow loss to the Surge then the Romans can kiss their chances of winning the division goodbye. If the squad that played the Revolution in their first encounter then this should be a very good matchup indeed.
The Revolution go from strength to strength this season. Currently undefeated they will be riding high after posting a 50 burger against the Staffordshire Surge. A win against the Chester Romans will all but guarantee them the division crown (although they won’t have mathematically won it just yet). The Revolution will now be looking to greater things beyond their division crown as well. According to our own “If the season ended today” articles the Revolution are currently ranked #2 in the NFC 2.
They will want to keep winning to maintain that ranking and possibly push on to the #1 seed for the playoffs. Momentum is with the Revolution in this game and I can’t see past them in this clash. Chester will end up ceding the conference to them.
Lincolnshire Bombers vs Humber Warhawks
The next clash in the conference shows two clubs with very different fortunes this season. One has overcome a winless 2016, while the other has failed to build on the previous season.
The Warhawks are currently having a season to forget. With only 54 points scored this season they are very much in the doldrums of this division. A single win game all the way back in April which will seem so long ago for a side that has lost 5 in a row. There isn’t much here for the Warhawks to get excited about. Their previous two outings have seen them only score 6 points while shipping 55. Another sore point will be the loss to the Railroaders in a game that the Warhawks will have earmarked for a win.
The Bombers on the other hand have an outside shot of making the playoffs and all they have to do to achieve that goal is keep on winning. Their next two opponents will prove a tougher task than the Warhawks, but for a team that lost every single game last year just having a sniff of the payoffs is a great achievement. So is going .500 on the season which the Bombers will be able to achieve if they beat the Warhawks.
I’ve been impressed with the Bombers efforts this season as they have risen from the disaster of 2016. They’re building their club on the back of youth football which will only stand them in good stead for the future. I’m going to pick the Bombers to win this match and go .500 for the season.
Cornish Sharks vs Jurassic Coast Raptors
This is the second leg of the Sharks/Raptors encounters which started two weeks ago. Despite winning their last match, the Sharks may not have been happy with the result. This was the Sharks second- lowest scoring game thus far with only 23 points. This would have dented the Sharks’ pride due to the Raptors residing at the bottom of the table. Despite a stale first half which finished with just a 7-0 score, the Sharks managed to score two long running TDs in the second. Their strong defence also managed to force a safety in order to add to their score sheet this season. This all does beg the question…have the Raptors made vast improvements or are the Sharks dealing with injuries from their games with the Apache and Black Knights?
Yes, the Raptors didn’t win, so what have they got to be happy about? For starters, they would have given the Sharks a real shock in the first half with the defensive stalemate. Secondly, the Raptors showed why it’s foolish to overlook special teams, with a 70yd punt return from Sean Tapping. As a result, Jurassic Coast’s Tom Davis did what many teams can’t claim this season and hit Sharks with an offensive touchdown. The Raptors will be hoping that they can cause more upsets this weekend.
While the last game showed some great moments for the Raptors, ultimately Sharks were the better team and came away with the W. With the Raptors also travelling to Cornwall, I can only see this go one way. Cornwall to win.
Swindon Storm vs Worcestershire Black Knights
The last time these two teams faced one another, the Swindon Storm won convincingly against the Black Knights with a 38-2 win. Their defence must be gutted that their O prevented a clean sheet. Three weeks ago was the last time that the Storm hit the field, where they delivered another large win, this time against Torbay Trojans with a 58-8 win. Now that Swindon has digested their fifty-burger, they will be ready to take on the Black Knights. With such a high score, the Storm made it rain with touchdowns for a variety of players. Coach Van Sloten credits a lot of these touchdowns to OC, Dan Thorne and Andy Wilson. Having allowed only 28 points in the last four games, the DC, Rich Westley will be pleased with how they have been performing. Still having aspirations of making their first playoff appearance, the Storm will be hoping to win big against Worcestershire.
Worcestershire started off the season well: they won two games, while losing their others by just a handful of points. Unfortunately, they encountered their biggest loss in their inaugural season, with a 61-0 hammering from conference top dogs, Bristol Apache. With many of their players having reportedly suffered injuries against Bristol, the Black Knights will be hoping that they can remain competitive against the Storm.
Storm’s players seem to be sharing Coach Van Sloten’s vision for the season and have been progressing each week. I can see them beating Worcestershire in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Swindon to win.
Wembley Stallions vs Essex Spartans
So here we go…This week sees just one fixture in the conference and it’s a rematch from last week!
This time the Stallions take the trip to the other side of the big smoke looking to stay perfect. Currently ranked #1 in the south because of their stingy defence Wembley will be looking to better last week’s 40-14 win.
The Cheetahs and Apache will be hoping the Spartans have cracked the code and are able to put up even more points this week.
The Spartans sit distinctly average at 3-3 and need to keep pace with the Blitz to keep third. They still hold a deficit in points scored vs conceded though. Perhaps last week against the Stallions was the beginning of an offensive revolution.
I’ve been saying it for weeks, everyone wants the undefeated teams to slip up. The Apache gave it a pretty good try last week. But I don’t think this is the one. Stallions to win and we put all our hope in the Mavs in 3 weeks.