It’s week seven already! Will the Hertfordshire Cheetahs put on another 50+ point game? Can the Cornish Sharks cause another shut out? It’s prediction time!
Glasgow Tigers vs Aberdeen Roughnecks
The teams in D2 North are WRECKING me! The first week or so of predictions are always tough but once you get past those, teams settle and you see how they shape up and then predicting becomes simpler because there’s more data to work with. Or that’s normally how it works, but it seems it’s not so with the Scots, who are intent on ruining my percentages with wild changes from week to week!
Aberdeen beat Glasgow, then Clyde Valley beat Aberdeen, so despite it being a rivalry fixture, I took the safe call that CV would beat Glasgow. That was not to be and the Tigers came out on top 16-3 on Sunday. Meanwhile Aberdeen got back to winning ways with their first convincing scoreline, away to Dumfries. That puts us in week seven with three teams on 2-1, and two of them square off again this Sunday.
Glasgow failed to score any offensive points when the two teams met in their opening fixtures but they’ve gone on to position themselves as the highest scorers in the conference so far and they’ve also had a boost this week with the transfer of two players from the West Coast Trojans, including that team’s 2016 MVP and Filton alumnus Connor Nicholson. That should give them another good all-rounder and set them up well for the rest of the year.
Aberdeen are the lowest scoring of the big three and with the most porous defense so it’ll be important that they shore things up in case of any potential three-way tie breakers and get some points on the board too.
Before Sunday I’d have sided with the Roughnecks but the tide may be turning and Glasgow look to be on the rise after a slow start so I’m gonna go with the Tigers to win at home and move to three straight wins and outright ownership of the #1 spot.
Walney Terriers vs Gateshead Senators
So far it has been quite a successful season for the Walney Terriers, picking up their first multi-win season in the programme’s National League history, kudos to them, but they are currently in the middle of their most difficult stretch of the season. Last weekend, they played the Leeds Bobcats, losing in a 32-0 shutout defeat. Unable to break through offensively, the Terriers’ defense did well in the first half to keep the Bobcats to a single score, but Walney tired in the second half as Leeds opened up their passing attack. Things don’t get any easier this week as they host Gateshead this weekend.
The Senators have been running through the division like a hot knife through butter, dominating Northumberland and Carlisle before dismantling a Morecambe Bay side 74-6, who have won their other three games. The Senators have the #1 ranked offense in the entire country (54.7 PPG), while conceding just 6 points per game – a good recipe for victory. RB Stephen Taylor has rushed for six scores already this year, with his fellow running backs, Darren Mould and Ryan Fletcher, also contributing multiple scores – the Senators’ running attack has been too good for Division Two so far.
Knottingley Raiders vs Leeds Bobcats
It’s difficult to gauge as they have only faced the 2-2 Walney Terriers, who defeated them twice in those match-ups and have lost to both Morecambe Bay and Leeds. The Raiders came out the blocks strong and had a 14-0 lead over Walney in their first encounter, but since that first half they have been heavily beaten by the Terriers 12-51 in their last six quarters of play. This game against Leeds will be extremely tough for the Raiders, but will take comfort in the fact they played Leeds in their associate season, losing out 40-46.
Leeds, meanwhile, have started the season strongly beating Northumberland, Carlisle and Walney. In those three wins, their defense has conceded zero points, with only a pick-6 in the 18-6 defeat to Carlisle in their points against column. Speaking to a couple of Bobcats players, they are still missing a number of players on offense, but last week saw the return of FB Aaron Goult and veteran RB Lee Nelson, who helped lead the Bobcats offense to the play-offs last year.
Crew Railroaders vs Halton Spartans
Both of these teams have yet to record a win this season, however both teams are in very different positions. The Crewe Railroaders have had a torrid time of things lately. The closest the team came to a win was their second game of the season against the Warhawks. The Railroaders lined up to go for 2 to win the game in the dying moments of the game but failed to punch the ball in and, despite the gutsy call, ultimately failed to win the game. Outside of that they’ve been on the back of two large defeats from the Chester Romans and defeat to the Bombers who didn’t win a single game last season. Things are looking bleak for the Railroaders so you’d think going to another team yet to record a win this season should be just the ticket to chase the winless blues away.
Halton, although winless, have only played one opponent so far this season. They’ve lost back to back games against the high flying Shropshire Revolution. The Revolution are currently top of the NFC2 South and haven’t lost a game so far this campaign. Having only played one opponent it’s difficult to judge Halton correctly. The only thing we can be certain of is they’re not as good a Shropshire. The best thing to cure the ills of losing to the best team in the conference is to play one of the worse ones. Halton were leading the Revolution at the half way stage of the game, which is no mean feat against a club flying high in the conference.
Humber Warhawks vs Lincolnshire Bombers
On the surface of it, these two teams are having differing seasons. The Warhawks sit at .500 at 1-1 and the Bombers currently have a losing season at 1-2. However the two records of these teams disguise the types of season these two teams are having. The Warhawks are not having a great season all things considered. Their single win came after the Railroaders failed to convert a 2 point play to take the win. When your only win of the season was squeaking by one of the worst teams in your division and you don’t score any points in your other game it doesn’t say much for your chances in said division.
Lincolnshire, on the other hand, appear to be on the right path following their winless season last year. A comfortable victory against the Railroaders along with scoring points in every game this season, to my mind, puts the Bombers in a more comfortable place. Against the Surge, the Bombers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over in each of their first four possessions of the game. In the rest of the fixture, the Bombers remained competitive, hanging with their opponents who had been gifted easy points early. Should that sort of calamitous first half happen again, I’m not sure the Bombers will be able to dig themselves out. However it does show the Bombers ability to remain competitive if they cut out the silly mistakes
Staffordshire Surge vs Chester Romans
This match should prove very interesting and tell us a lot about where each participant are this season. Both clubs come into the game with two wins on the season. The Surge have scored over 30 points in each of their last two outings. They haven’t beaten a team with a winning record yet, but they can only beat the team in front of them, and they’ve done that handily in their last two outings. The Chester Romans will prove a much sterner test and the Surges’ Defense will have their work cut out for them trying to stop one of last seasons most prolific offenses which doesn’t seemed to have slowed down in 2017.
Chester have two huge wins this season, but both have come at the expense of the Crewe Railroaders. The only other team they have played are the Shropshire Revolution which they narrowly lost. Having seen a bit of film on the Chester Roman ive been very impressed with their offensive line. Even against a stout defense like the revolution they managed to move the ball well on the ground. I think the surge are going to struggle to keep pace with Chesters’ offense as i don’t think their defense can stop them.
Hertfordshire Cheetahs vs Hastings Conquerors
Comfortably at the top of the table undefeated, the Cheetahs have continued to dominate the SFC2 South. Allowing only 22 points in four games, they show no signs of slowing down. Named after the fastest animal on legs, the team is speeding off in to the distance with this season. With a bye last weekend, the team will be well rested and prepared for their game this weekend against the Conquerers who they shutout in their opening game of the season.
Not so comfortable at the bottom of the conference, the Conquerers are yet to win a game. With last weekend’s game called at the half in a 40-0 loss to the Renegades due to low numbers on the roster and a high number of injuries in the game, it would surprise me if they can field much of a team this weekend. I’m hoping the team can turn things around – it isn’t impossible for them to come back for a few wins this season.
Cheetahs to maintain their streak and go 5 and 0. The team is playing extremely well at the moment and with a weeks break, they seem not to be slowing down anytime soon. Facing a team that is struggling to field a team, they will likely give many of their top players a light workload this game.
Portsmouth Dreadnoughts vs Maidstone Pumas
After holding the Bobcats and Pumas to 6 points in weeks one and three respectively, the Dreadnoughts took a blow across the prow as they lost heavily to the Renegades in Week Five. With a bye week, Portsmouth will hope to have recovered from the loss and will be looking forward and preparing for the match-up against the Pumas this weekend, who they beat in Week Three.
Without a win in the season, the Pumas will be focusing on covering the holes in the system that led to the 0-54 loss to the Cheetahs in Week Five. The team has not played a lot of football in the seven weeks so far, at 0-2, they’ve certainly had the training time to iron out the creases, but will it show through on the field of play?
This weekend’s game will be integral to setting the team’s enthusiasm and drive to continue striving to play well and look for their first win. The team has a packed schedule, playing three games in the next three weeks.
London Blitz B vs Ipswich Cardinals
So here we go.
The Blitz will be buoyed from a big win last week against the Spartans showing both a stingy defence and some life on offence.
Their win puts them in a great position to chase for a playoff berth in the conference, and even should the Stallions’ dominance in the conference continue, they’re in a great position to make a run at the #2 spot after beating a previously undefeated Essex side.
Ipswich however have struggled with putting points on the board so far this year – two shut out losses and their only win a 6-0 victory over newcomers, the East Essex Sabres. They struggled to move the ball against the Spartans in Week Five, whereas the Blitz took control of the second half against this common opponent to earn their first win of the year.
Even this early in the season, this is something of a must-win for both teams if they want to keep pace. If the Cardinals can find a spark on offence this has the ability to either be a shootout or a squeaker. For those watching I’m hoping the former.
Cornish Sharks vs Torbay Trojans
The Sharks would have been watching Torbay’s game against Swindon Storm closely. Having narrowly beaten Torbay in the first week, the Sharks later beat storm 31-0 who went on to dismantle the Trojans last week. The Cornish side will be confident that they will be able to beat Torbay and convincingly.
Coming off a 30-7 win against Worcestershire, the sharks are ready for a rematch to show that they’ve improved since last month’s fixture. The Sharks’ offensive game can still be prone to slow starts and inconsistencies, but the ariel connections between quarterback Peter Carlin and wider receiver Ben Jenkins are ones to watch out for. The offensive unit has been improving steadily over the weeks and I can’t see them slowing down this week.
The unit that Torbay will really need to look out for is the Sharks’ dominating defense. With the #2 PAPG in the country with 2.33 PAPG, they are not a side to be messed with. Players such as Lewis Bowns, Tony Smith and Adam Kevern have been working closely on the defensive line, which is making running on the Sharks a difficult task. Speaking to Head Coach Brian Smallworth, he told that he has been impressed with his defense thus far and has faith that once his offense clicks, there’ll be no stopping them.
Torbay have had a rough start to the season. The Trojans lost two games by six points or less and won their only game by a mere two points. Unfortunately last week, the 43-12 loss to Swindon Storm showed that relying on the defense alone isn’t enough. Their offense is still struggling to move the ball consistently. Relying heavily on the running of Mike Boraston, the Trojans were able to progress up the field (slowly, but steadily) and then a switch of game plan then meant that they prioritised their passing game.
This initially found success with their #1 receiver, Tim Rogers. Unfortunately, the Trojans became too predictable by throwing to Rogers a little too often – as a result, he found himself in double/triple coverage despite some strong route running. Stopping the run was the strength of Torbay in previous games, but with many players unable to disengage from blocks, they were allowing the Storm to rack up yards and improve their highlight tapes.
Torbay’s secondary did a great job closing up space when needed to prevent more touchdowns from the Storm run game and I hope that they fire up the rest of the defense to do the same.
I do feel that last week’s game was an ‘off week’ for Torbay and one that they’d like to wipe from their memories. As long as Torbay learn from the game and ensure they don’t make the same mistakes, they may shock the Sharks a little.
The Sharks have been training and will want to keep their momentum going before their game against Bristol in June which may decide the conference winners.
Sharks will come away with the W and Pasty Bowl bragging rights.