The regular season is nearly coming to an end across the BAFA National Leagues this weekend. There’s plenty still up for grabs across the six conferences in Division Two!
Aberdeen Roughnecks vs Clyde Valley Blackhawks
Aberdeen started the season by inflicting a loss on Glasgow, their only loss so far this year, but it’s been up and down since, going WLWLWWT.
They hold second place, ahead of CVB who they’re yet to beat and it’s not yet secured, so this is their chance to finish the season strongly and cement that postseason place. Clyde Valley will see the opening, however and look to finish 2-0 and steal that playoff berth from under their nose. This will be another close one, following on from their 13-13 draw in week 14, and to be honest I need the result here to make sure I don’t finish bottom of the pile in predictions!
I’m torn here, but I’m gonna back the boys from Wishaw to keep their record against the Aberdonians. CVB to win (just!)
Glasgow Tigers vs Dumfries Hunters
Tough first year for Dumfries winning just the single game so far, but with two to go there is still hope. The first of these is against the conference champion Glasgow Tigers who have already claimed two wins against Dumfries already, including a 34-0 shoeing in their last meeting two weeks ago.
Based on that, and based on Glasgow’s desire to come into the playoffs hot by winning eight straight games, I think this will be more of the same. Glasgow to win.
Walney Terriers vs Northumberland Lightning
Walney will be eagerly looking to do the double over the Lightning after a 79-0 clobbering they handed their Northern foes in Week 9, and with a win secure a .500 season for the first time in their history. Since that huge victory the Terriers ran the Gateshead Senators close in a 20-7 defeat before handling the Carlisle Sentinels with relative ease in a 37-7 win in Week 13. Four weeks off followed for Walney to prepare for this match up, and they’ll be extremely confident of earning a result.
Northumberland, meanwhile, have struggled through the year with numbers, and they will travel light once again across the Pennines. Last time they made the trip was for an associate scrimmage, but the sides have taken different paths since then. The Lightning will be hoping to score at least four points so they are not the lowest scoring team in the entirety of Britball.
The Lightning have just got to get through their last two games and look to rebuild, something I have no doubt they will do in some form or another. Since their heavy defeat to Walney they lost 44-0 in one half to Morecambe Bay, forfeited to Gateshead and lost 24-0 to Carlisle. Walney to win big and secure their .500 season.
Knottingley Raiders vs Morecambe Bay Storm
Knottingley showed so much promise heading into the league, with just one defeat in a very competitive associate year, that being a 46-40 loss to Leeds Bobcats. But for some reason that hasn’t translated to league life. Perhaps the locality of the Leeds Bobcats and Yorkshire Rams has reduced numbers, but they can take solace in their lone victory over Northumberland, a 56-16 drubbing. Many teams fail to win in their associate season, and that’s credit to them. A forfeit to Leeds just seven days prior to this matchup is a worrying sign, hopefully they’ll be able to fulfil this fixture and complete their final two games.
A win for the Storm will secure a winning season for the rookie outfit – whose four defeats have been to the Gateshead Senators and Leeds Bobcats. Right now, Morecambe Bay have the #8 spot in the play-offs, with a trip to Gateshead in the offing – a team they have lost 72-6 and 42-14, the latter result happening just a few days ago. With one game to go their QB Chris Mayne has 1,400 yards, 17 TD’s and 11 INT’s – adding another seven touchdowns on the ground, while star back Mark Baldwin has rushed for 482 yards and seven scores, with WR Dion Feather catching 28 balls for 682 yards and 8 TD’s. One problem, however, is Mayne has separated his shoulder, meaning Feather has taken over under centre. He’s yet to throw a touchdown and six picks. UPSET ALERT!
Maybe not, even without Mayne, they still managed to score 14 points on the ground against a strong Senator defence. The Storm sneak this one by a score or two.
Staffordshire Surge vs Halton Spartans
Both these teams come into this game off the backs of defeats. Staffordshire were upset by the upstart Bombers while the Spartans fell to the Chester Romans.
This is the Spartans final game of the season and they’ll be looking to restore some pride before the seasons end. The Spartans have remained competitive in all their fixtures this season, however they have still had a poor season by their own standards. Going into the season they would have been looking to get into the play offs so finishing the season with six losses at least will be far from what they would have hoped. They’ll be looking to defeat the Surge to restore some prize.
The Surge still have an outside shot of making the playoffs. To do so they will have to beat the Spartans and the Warhawks and hope results in other divisions go their way. Last week’s loss to the Bombers will have stung however the Surge s
till control their own destiny as far as the playoffs are concerned. As they hold the head to head record over the Romans, if both of them have 7 wins then the Surge will advance to the playoffs as the #2 team in the division. now find themselves in the difficult position of lacking the head to head over all three of their rivals for postseason berths, and what’s more, they still have to win out to contest the spots and the Spartans will be no pushover.
Although they let me down last week being upset by the Bombers, I’m still picking the Surge to take this one.
Humber Warhawks vs Shropshire Revolution
This matchup sees two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Revolution are riding high, looking to go undefeated in the regular season. The Warhawks are licking their wounds and hopefully putting measures in place to have a much better 2018 season.
The Revolution are far in away the class of this division. They’ll want to go undefeated and put pressure on the Gateshead Senators not to drop a game in the race for the #1 seed in the playoffs. The Revolution will go into this game with half an eye on the Bobcats Senators game over in West Leeds and hoping that the Bobcats can do them a favor by defeating the Senators (although that might leapfrog the Bobcats into the #1 seed…er…hmm…glad I don’t have to write the ‘If The Season Ended Today’ articles). However to get that #1 seed they’ll have to beat the Warhawks and gear up for the playoffs and possibly promotion into Division 1.
The Warhawks have not scored a point in over a month. They’ve not won a game since April. Things generally are looking bleak. To avoid finishing bottom of the division they’ll want to pick up a win against the Revolution or next week against the Surge.
The problem is, I don’t think they’ve got the talent to do so. Next they’ll have to try and concede less 75 points over their next two fixtures. I’m sorry to say this Warhawks but that seems to be a far more achievable goal then getting a win. Revolution to win and go undefeated on the season
Bristol Apache v Worcestershire Black Knights
For the second time in three years, Apache have claimed the conference crown after a 20-6 win against Swindon Storm. While the win looks convincing, the match did tell another tale: two touchdowns only came in the end of the second half, meaning that both sides only scored one each in the second. Bristol were the better team and came away with the W, but they do need to up it again in order to remain competitive in the playoffs in a few weeks’ time. Bristol managed to hold back the Swindon offense with Matthew Hannigan Train and Darius Lynch both causing havoc against the offensive line and quarterback. . Ed ‘Eagle’ Green and Jon Walters are becoming a notorious duo, providing Bristol with a constant barrage of power backs at their disposal. Rookie fullback, Henry Turner, stepped up and showed that he’s ready for a playoff run. Apache will be hoping that they can give their second and third string players some game time to ensure that their depth is ready for the challenges ahead.
The Bristol Apache assistant head coach, Lydon Ward-Best, was understandably excited about the win, but knew not to underestimate Swindon Storm and highlighted that there is still a lot of work to be done to remain successful through the playoffs:
Swindon was always going to be a tough game. They tend to be the dark horse of the conference, so we did a vast amount of scouting. We knew their QB tendencies and that if we applied pressure to certain points of the team they would crack. We still have a lot of work to do before the end of the season.
The last time that the Black Knights faced Apache, they came away with more than just a loss. A number of their players left the field with injuries meaning that they couldn’t play the Storm. Despite having 106 points piled on them in their last two games, one has to respect Worcestershire for still having the balls to step on the field and face their opponents – other teams, take note! Despite the loss, there are still positive to look for. George Cox from Loughborough University impressed with some great catches and Tom Snell did well to stand in at the tough job at quarterback.
Apache will be using this game to iron out remaining problems. Apache to go 9-0. Apache to win.
Swindon Storm v Cornish Sharks
This game is important; this will help decide who may end up in second place in the conference. Both teams will really need to watch their PAPG to secure the second place if Swindon win. Swindon have had a season to be proud of: they had a bad start to the season with a 31-0 loss to Sharks, but since then they haven’t had much problems – even running Apache close by five points in April. In their last game against the Apache, the Storm finished with an impressive four interceptions. The Storm showed to be improving their passing game by putting the pressure off of Vic Ofoe with Andrew Corbett receiving a 42-yard bomb from Quarterback Greg Roscow. They almost added another touchdown to the list, but unfortunately missed the opportunity in the first quarter. To be successful again, Storm must hold onto that ball and prevent those fumbles, regardless of the weather!
Swindon head coach, Rich Van Sloten, has been humble with the Storm’s victories and is happy that the team has been improving since last season:
This year was all about rebuilding from last year, and whilst we did start off slowly, we seem to have built momentum. Hopefully, we can go into this weekend’s game after rectifying those mistakes. The players and coaches are happy with the progress we have made.
The Cornish Sharks’ season has also been a success. They trounced all opposition that got in their way, until they reached Bristol. Despite still having a great defense, one does wonder if there have been many changes within the roster since the Bristol game as they did have some problems at times against the bottom dwellers, Jurassic Coast Raptors. The Sharks are known to have a strong defensive line, who will in no doubt test the Storm. With the Storm’s improving passing game, they will be hoping that their backfield is up to the challenge.
Looking back at their first game, many would choose the Sharks to win. I feel that the Storm that we have now is very different to the one that we had in April. It will be close, it may be messy, but I am going to choose Storm to win this one. Swindon to win.
Maidstone Pumas vs Bournemouth Bobcats
This weekend’s matchup between the Maidstone Pumas and Bournemouth Bobcats is a competition for team honour and the win only, with no impact on the outcome of the conference.
The Maidstone Pumas are at one and eight sitting second to last in the conference. They have scored less than half of the points put on the board by the Bobcats but with two games still to go the team will look to increase the number in the W column and points scored and finish on a high. Their final game of the season may still impact who goes through to the South Divisional Finals so they can still have an impact.
At two and six placed fourth in the conference, the Bournemouth Bobcats are also out of the running this season. This weekend’s game will be merely for the joy of playing football and their last game of 2017. Looking forward the teams will want to build on what they have learnt from this season and prepare for 2018.
I think this weekend’s win will go to the Bournemouth Bobcats, their points scored to points allowed is considerably better than that of Maidstone and the team hold a slightly better record.
East Kent Mavericks vs Wembley Stallions
So here we go! The big one. The king of sting, the count of monte fisto, the end of the two horse race…
The Mavs come into this week with their tail between their legs after being put to the sword by the Spartans. This kills any real chance of taking first place, they can still ruin the stallions party by breaking the streak and knocking them off #1 in the south.
The Stallions will be feeling the pressure this week as the last decent chance of a loss rolls around. This will have been their focus for weeks.
The last game was close and I don’t expect anything less. Though I think the Mavs can’t outscore Wembley. Wembley to win.
London Blitz B vs East Essex Sabres
Now we have the two newest kids on the block squaring off.
The Sabres have performed admirably for their first year and even notched a win . They can look at the Blitz as a model to follow to improve.
The Blitz can finish their season 5-5 with a win and hope to squeeze out a third place finish with the Spartans struggling to play Essex Bowl II.
The Blitz have got stronger as the year has progressed. Look for them to finish the season in style.
Ipswich Cardinals vs Essex Spartans
Similar to the Blitz Sabres game this game has two teams with very different seasons. The Cardinals needed a rebuild. They have upped their game from last year but work still needs to be done.
The Spartans have had a solid year but need to play the Essex Bowl part 2 to keep pace with the Blitz in record but the Blitz have the head to head.
A solid outing and with Wembley potentially promoted next year the Spartans will need to step up to crack the post season. Spartans to win.