All the conferences in Division Two are in action in week six. Can Clyde Valley continue their impressive start to life back in the National Leagues? It’s prediction time!
Glasgow Tigers vs Clyde Valley Blackhawks
We are back at it in NFC2 North this week and an old rivalry game looms. These two organisations used to go at it as youth and junior teams, long before Clyde Valley even had a senior team and it’s given some great fixtures over the years. This year we came into the season not knowing what to expect but CVB have come out of their associate year well, bringing in some new players but with a core of familiar names who have averaged 30ppg over their first two encounters and Glasgow have had a close loss and a close win so far, both with minimal offensive production.
I expect the CVB offense to be more than Glasgow can handle and a 2+ score win looms for the Blackhawks. CVB to win.
Dumfries Hunters vs Aberdeen Roughnecks
Dumfries came close to their first win in each of their first two game, losing by 2 and 3 points, but they’ve shown they can put points on the board and Aberdeen leaked 34 points in game 2 to the Blackhawks who only put 26 past the Hunters. This is a very tough one to call!
The plucky new boys MIGHT steal it, but I’m going with the favourites in a close one. Aberdeen to win.
Walney Terriers vs Leeds Bobcats
The Walney Terriers currently sit third in the NFC Central. Yes, you read that correctly. They have won two out of their three games so far, losing the other by just two points to rookie outfit Morecambe Bay, essentially being a field goal away from 3-0. Before this season Walney had won just one National League game in their history. Okay, so they’ve played three teams that are embarking on their first season in Britball, and are coming up against last year’s NFC 2 West champions this weekend, but confidence is a funny thing.
Leeds, meanwhile, are sitting pretty at 2-0, after convincingly beating Northumberland, but less so in beating the Carlisle Sentinels 18-6 last week. Talk was that the Bobcats were onto their fourth string running back on Sunday, and struggled to get much going. Carlisle’s only points of the game came of a pick six, worrying times for the Bobcats offense maybe? Defensively though, the Leeds defence has yet to concede when on the field. Will their tired legs in the Bobcats squad playing their third consecutive game this week?
I do believe Walney have the ability to upset the applecart here, but It would be a brave man to go against the Leeds Bobcats in this one. Bobcats to grind this one out.
Morecambe Bay Storm vs Carlisle Sentinels
Morecambe Bay came back to earth with a bang two weekends ago when they suffered at the wrath of the Gateshead Senators offence. Despite taking an early lead, the Storm lost 74-6. Personally, I’ve suffered many a beating bigger than this in my career, Morecambe must put the game behind them and focus on the Sentinels. The Storm have two wins on the board already against team with a couple of years’ experience on the board and should consider Carlisle in the same bracket as the two clubs they have overcome.
Carlisle, meanwhile, must take some encouragement from holding the Leeds Bobcats to just 18 points last Sunday. Sure, their offense is still struggling to put points on the board, but if you can keep games close like the defence did against the Bobcats you’re in with a shout. The Sentinels will see this as a fantastic opportunity to put a W on the board, having conceded 32 points less that Storm did against Gateshead. Without match reports to go on, I can’t really go into much detail on players and the like, but word is defensively they are very physical (in a good way), make of that what you will.
I think Morecambe Bay take this one, bouncing back from that hideous result against Gateshead, Carlisle need to find an offensive spark to have a chance this week.
Its a bit like ground hog day here in the NFC2 South Division. Only week six and we’re already getting rematches from earlier in the season.
Halton Spartans vs Shropshire Revolution
Halton have yet to play any other opposition than Shropshire. Last time out they lost on the road in Shropshire by a large margin. Being a team with playoff aspirations, Halton will be looking to avenge their the previous performance against Shropshire and put themselves in the mix as one of the better teams in the division. Having only played a single game it is difficult to determine exactly what sort of a team the Spartans are, especially as their only game has come against the class of the division. Unfortunately for the Spartans, we might not know anything more about them at the end of this fixture.
Shropshire will be riding high after their last victory against the Chester Romans. Its a win that has put them in the driving seat in the division. Their ball hawking defence came up trumps again with the last minute take away to seal the game against the Romans. It was a classic game of back and forth action against the Romans and the return leg is going to be one of the games of the year. In their last outing the Revolution made quick work of the Spartans, pulling away from them early in the fixture. Shropshire will be looking to once again make quick work of their opponents as they march towards the division crown and the playoffs.
I don’t believe Halton are going to make an upset in this game. I feel for them having to take on Shropshire twice for their opening two games which is going to put them on the back foot early on. They will face other opponents soon enough. However I fully expect the Revolution to continue their march to the division crown.
Crewe Railroaders vs Chester Romans
Crewe have had a disappointing start to the season thus far and currently sit 0-3. In their last outing against the Humber Warhawks they were unlucky not to come away with the win. The Railroaders scored in the dying minutes of the game, instead of kicking the points for the tie the Railroaders opted to go for 2 points and the win. It was a gutsy call and one I find commendable. Now they get to wash away the pain of that outcome with a return journey to the team that put 68 points against them in week 1. Tough sledding. However the fact that the number of touchdowns they have scored each game has gone up by one should give them something of a boon. I look forward to their final game of the season against the Revolution where they should score 10 touchdowns.
Chester will have to be feeling pained after their narrow defeat to the Revolution last time they took the field. After driving to win the game they threw an interception to give the win to the Revolution. They will get a chance to get back to winning ways against the Railroaders. In week one the Chester Oline demolished the Railroaders defence, giving their runningbacks one of their favorite things, an untouched path to the endzone.
Nothing that has happened since the last time these two clubs met has convinced me that there will be any other outcome other than the same as last time. Chester to win
Staffordshire Surge vs Lincolnshire Bombers
Both these teams are coming into this fixture off the backs of convincing wins scoring 31 points against their opposition. The Surge got their 2017 campaign off to a flying start over the Humber Warhawks. This doesn’t really tell us much about what sort of a team the Surge are. The Warhawks have a win by a single point against a team without a win in three games so any team worth their salt should be beating teams like the Warhawks. The Bombers will prove a much sturdier opposition than anything the Surge has faced to date and questions still hover over the surge based on some of the personnel losses they incurred over the winter break.
The Bombers will be happy to get their campaign back to winning ways after they neatly dispatched the Crewe Railroaders. Looking to bounce back from a disastrous 2016, getting their first win in a long while should have proved pretty sweet for the Lincolnshire outfit. If the Bombers want to continue to improve as a club then they need to win games like this against the surge. I’ve been impressed with the way the Bombers are looking to rebuild their club after the 2016 campaign and I feel these two teams are more evenly matched than their reputations would suggest.
Of all the games in the division this weekend, this game should be a close one. I’ve yet to stick my neck out in any game this season to pick an underdog and I’m sorely tempted to pick the Bombers to win…however I’m a coward so I’m going to pick the Surge. Prove me wrong Lincolshire.
Berkshire Renegades vs Hastings Conquerors
The Berkshire Renegades took a comfortable win over the once undefeated Portsmouth Dreadnoughts last weekend walking away 21 points ahead. This needed win will keep the Renegades in the middle of the conference however they are being hunted by the Bobcats at 1-2 and are only one game behind the Dreadnoughts at 2-1. Being a game behind the team they have just defeated leaves them in a good place to do well this season. Looking forward to this weekends game against the Conquerors, the Renegades will want to walk away with the win and continue the hard work put in by the defence last weekend who held the Dreadnoughts to only 6 points.
The Conquerors have had a two-week break away from scheduled football after two shutout losses in weeks 1 & 3. The team will attempt to use the two-week break to consolidate what they have learnt from these losses and hope to develop the defence to work around the weaknesses they have found. Not putting points on the board will have hurt the team’s morale but spirits will be high after a few training sessions to recover from injuries and work on perfecting technique.
Renegades to win. Despite only having placed 41 points on the board over two games their performance so far this season shows they are scoring and will likely walk away with the win this weekend.
East Kent Mavericks vs East Essex Sabres
So here we go. A battle between two teams to be the beast from the east. Will it be a horse or a sabertooth tiger?
The Mavs have only played the rampaging Stallions and gave them quite the scare. The return leg could be a real humdinger.
The Sabres being the new cats on the block have yet to get one in the win column but have put in competitive showings.
Look for the Sabres to remain competitive but these steeds won’t be tamed. Mavs to win.
London Blitz B vs Essex Spartans
The Spartans are riding high at #2 in the table and joint #1 in defence. They need to continue this run of form to stay in a playoff hunt but it would be interesting to see how they fare against the Mavs and stallions.
The Blitz B got their season underway last week against the conference favourite Stallions. To most a 21-0 loss would be horrendous news but they fared better than conference rivals and got the first game jitters out of the way. They may need to work on scoring some points though. It generally helps.
Could be a close one but I think the Spartans experience prevails.
Jurassic Coast Raptors vs Bristol Apache
After a thumping from the Storm last week and currently residing at the bottom of the table, the Raptors must be frustrated that their next fixture is the Bristol Apache. The Raptors are attempting to move the ball up the field on both the ground and the air. They will be looking at being a bit more cautious after giving up a pick 6 to Swindon last week. Unlike some teams in the conference, they have been able to find the endzone in all of their games thus far.
Bristol had a brief scare against Swindon a few weeks ago – the same team who beat the Raptors. Apache have shown to be fairly strong on both sides of the ball, but unfortunately, in the last two games, the defense has pulled back on the pedal slightly, allowing both the Raptors and Storm to take advantage. On the offense, Apache veteran, Jon Walters, will be looking to power his way through the Raptors’ defense. Second-year WR, James Powell-Cullingford, had a great game against Swindon and will be hoping to add a second TD to his stats. Both Mike Hall at LB and Francesco Gambioli at DB, will be looking to lead by example on the defense and make sure that their unit will remain dominant throughout the entirety of the game, not just in the first three quarters.
Yes, the Raptors were the first team to ruin my prediction record the other week (not bitter at all) against Worcestershire, but I don’t think this will happen this weekend. Apache to coast through this game. Apache to win.
Torbay Trojans vs Swindon Storm
Torbay had an emotional game on Sunday. They played an improved Worcestershire team, who managed to scrape in a touchdown right near the end of the game. Torbay were able to show that they’re not just relying on their defense any more, finally being able to put up more than one touchdown against their opposition. Alan Denby and Neil Ford made big plays on defense last week and will be hoping to do the same to prevent the Storm offense from racking up a high score for the second week in a row. Defensive captain, Matt Smith, will make sure his defense don’t get complacent again this week if they find themselves in the lead. Opening up the passing game to Tim Rogers last week gave hope to the offense. No longer do Torbay need to rely on just Mike Boraston to make yardage on the ground, as evident by a shift in running style with Luke Lambrechts’ two touchdowns and 2 pointer. Torbay’s upgraded offensive line is carrying injuries and they hope that their back-ups can hold the fort to allow QB, Lewis Gregory, to make plays.
The Swindon Storm camp would have been a great place to be this week. After getting whooped by Sharks in their first week, to running Apache close to then get a very convincing win over the Raptors, many of the rookies’ confidence in their playing ability will be increasing. Despite the two losses, the Storm unit have never dropped their heads. Brent Flippance’s pick six against the Raptors helped Swindon realise what they were capable of. Their Special Teams unit regularly put them in good field position to take advantage of the Raptors. On his team’s progress and the new coaching staff’s efforts, Coach Rich Van Sloten said:
“Torbay are, a good team that has been a dark horse this year; we need to up our game yet again. I keep telling the players every week we have set the bar, it’s up to them to raise it and keep the progression building. The coaching staff are all working together well.”
Torbay are finding their momentum and are starting to work out what works. Storm are progressing well each game. I backed Torbay last week and they let me down in the final moments, but I’m going to give them another chance. Torbay to win
Worcestershire Black Knights vs Cornish Sharks
I was tempted last week to change my prediction for the Black Knights to win, but felt it was foolish to change my prediction at the last minute – damn you messing up my record for the second week in a row, I swear it’s not getting competitive at DC! The rookie unit from Worcestershire managed to iron out any mistakes that they made in the previous week against the Raptors and play another competitive game against Torbay. Their drive and desire through every aspect of the game, meant that they were able to squeeze in one last surprise TD near the end of the game in order to take away their first ever BAFANL win! On O, RB and FB duo, Jay Styles and Sam Bennett will be looking to continue pounding the ball up the field behind offensive lineman, Stephen Lawrence. Rookie corner, Jake Cassidy will be looking at trying to disrupt a developing Sharks passing game. Speaking to Coach Rich Smith, he understands that this will be a challenging game, but can’t wait to test his team.
The Sharks are coming of a large three week break. Plenty of time to lick any wounds that they may have picked up and iron out any minor creases that they may have discovered against their easy win against the Swindon Storm. The sharks have a solid defense and will be looking trying to shutout the Black Knights. If Worcestershire don’t move away from the run game, then they may find the like of Lewis Bowns and Sam Illsley too difficult to overcome. From a bragging point of view, the Sharks will want to win this game convincingly to stay above Bristol Apache in the power rankings.
Worcestershire may surprise us, but I feel that the Sharks’ bite will be too much for the Knights and experience will give the Cornish unit the W. Cornwall to win.