Will the Apache, Stallions and Cheetahs continue their perfect streaks and tighten their grip on the respective conferences? Week Ten is here…it’s prediction time!
Clyde Valley Blackhawks vs Glasgow Tigers
Clyde Valley ruined my predictions again a couple of weeks back when they fell to Dumfries, giving the Hunters their first every competitive win and dropping CVB to 2-2. Meanwhile Glasgow continue to add depth and sit pretty atop the conference at 3-1. In the first meeting between these two, four weeks ago, Glasgow took the spoils in a 16-3 win and the momentum since that time seems to have been in the direction of the Tigers.
So despite the unpredictable nature of this particular group of teams, I’m backing a Glasgow to come out with the win again, this time perhaps by a larger margin. Glasgow to win.
Gateshead Senators vs Knottingley Raiders
The Senators still have the #1 scoring offense in the entire National Leagues, improving to 51.8 PPG with an emphatic 68-0 battering of a small (sub-20 man) Carlisle Sentinels squad who made the trip across the Pennines. Team Captain Gavin Barr stole the show at the weekend with a hat-trick of end zone visits coupled with four two point conversions. Fellow Senators Stalwart Darren Mould also scored three touchdowns as Gateshead reached the halfway point of the season unscathed. Defensively they recorded their first team shutout, with plenty of sacks and turnovers for Gateshead to feast upon.
Knottingley picked up their first ever league victory two weeks ago, recording a mouth-watering 50 burger in the process against a struggling Northumberland. This is the part I would name drop the key performers in their 56-16 victory, but alas I’m unable to find a match report. Overall, after an impressive associate season, life has been tough for the Raiders, winning just one of their four games so far. Encouragingly though, they average 22 PPG on offense, which should see them pick up a few more wins before the seasons end.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, this week will not be one of them as Gateshead’s league leading offense will be too strong for the rookie outfit.
Crewe Railroaders vs Lincolnshire Bombers
This seems something of a dull matchup this weekend as the improved Lincolnshire Bombers travel to the Crewe Railroaders, well dear readers let me try and persuade you otherwise. Both these teams will be looking to get their seasons back on track off the back of losses.
The Lincolnshire Bombers fell to the division topping Shropshire Revolution. Lincolnshire are much improved this season and have already beaten the Railroaders once this season. As they travel west they’ll be hoping for a repeat performance of the first outing. Lincolnshire’s seem to be the epitome of a mid-table team. They beat the bottom feeders and they lose to the cream of the crop. Considering where Lincolnshire were last season they will take this. On top of this relative success their Youth team continues to make strides and should get their first win of the season when they face the Chorley Buccaneers. They are building their club up in the right way and I hope they continue to have success this season.
The Crewe Railroaders are the perennial whipping boys and this season is no different. They’ve yet to win a game and are coming of the back of another loss away to the Halton Spartans. However that was over 4 weeks ago. Crewe have has a chance to rest their squad who have taken a bit of a battering as the season has gone on. With so much time off they should be well rested and well prepared. We can guarantee that they’ll have marked this game down as a potential win and will be going all out to try and get the spoils and prevent a winless season.
So have I convinced you there is something interesting here? Probably better that you don’t answer that. As for who is going to win the game, it’s an easy one to pick. I’ll pick the team that is trending up. Lincolnshire to win
Bristol Apache vs Cornish Sharks
Wow, what a game the two teams had last time! This was a real competitive fixture with the team in the lead changing a total of five times. Sharks managed to regain the lead near the end of the fourth quarter, which I’m assuming would have led to many Cornish players celebrating a victory pre-emptively. Unfortunately, Bristol decided to wipe the smiles off the Sharks’ faces, with a late touchdown to seal the game.
Cornish Sharks fought hard with their strong defense, but I have thought throughout this campaign that if a team is capable of passing, they may be able to crack it. The first touchdown of the game came from an aerial attack from Apache offense. Amazingly, it took until game 5 for a team to score offensively on the Sharks. As long as the Sharks didn’t pick up any injuries, I can see them going up with a full squad to the far away land of Bristol to get revenge. Bristol did have trouble keeping Shaun Griffin out of their end zone and the Sharks will be looking at utilising this veteran again this weekend.
Bristol would have all breathed a sigh of relief after that last game. Close games are always emotional affairs and this would have been no different. Despite some doubts earlier in the season against Swindon, Apache managed to pull it out of the bag when it mattered the most. They managed to score on the Sharks both in the air and ground, meaning that they had the Sharks’ defense on edge. Bristol must remember how much this game means – the Sharks still beat them on PAPG. If the Sharks win this and continue dominating the other teams in the conference, it’s theirs. Bristol will utilise Frankie Pankhurst to bolster the offense and provide the post-game banter
It’s long known that people tend to do worse when they travel to Cornwall, but Apache came out on top. As long as Bristol didn’t pick up too many injuries and don’t get complacent, I can see Simon Staddon’s unit coming out on top. Expect another close score. Bristol to win.
Jurassic Coast Raptors vs Torbay Trojans
The Raptors will be hoping to pull themselves from the bottom of the table, with both teams currently residing one place from one another. The Raptors’ offense has shown to be productive against the teams lower down in the conference and I can see them slipping in a touchdown or two against Torbay. Their defense does still have concerns, allowing points in when it matters the most. A developing team like the Raptors needs to focus on the positives and build from them. In five games, they have already scored more points than they ever did in their whole campaign last season. Once they can figure out the formula for defense, they may stop competing.
After an unexpected hammering from Swindon and an even bigger hammering from the Sharks, the Torbay camp has probably been feeling down after a positive start to the season. With a few weeks off to heal up and re-assess the direction of the units, they will be ready to show the league that they aren’t done just yet. With Plymouth Blitz’s Kieran Calvert, Fred Bull and James Cunningham all joining the offense during the break, and Andy Dymond-Park on defense, they have more weapons and will hopefully offer a more dynamic game.
Sorry to never root for you, Raptors! Maybe I’m doing it to spur you on! Torbay has the talent to get it done, but it rests on whether they have made the most of their training time. Torbay to win.
Worcestershire Black Knights vs Swindon Storm
Worcestershire have already taken the scalps of the Raptors and Trojans in their rookie season and they will be hoping to repeat this against Storm. Having developed their passing game more using Stephen Lawrence, they are becoming of a threat in multiple areas. If the Black Knights can avoid silly penalties which tends to haunt them in their games, they may increase their productivity.
The last time we saw Swindon was during their 42-12 win against Torbay. Having watched the game, the Storm were quick at adapting their game plan and focussing on key players on the opposing team. They were physical and did a great job at protecting the pass. Touchdowns were spread out between Iain Eastham and Victor Ofoe on offense and a pick-6 Dan Thorne. The major momentum shift came from Rui Roza in what was a fairly even first half. As usual Big and quick defensive player Shay heavily disrupted the offense in the backfield, delivering large hits as the game progressed and I can see this game being no different. Plymouth’s Joe Soden will help make a big different to disrupt Worcestershire’s passing game. Some promising rookies impressed, particularly in the running game. Speaking to Head Coach, Rich Van Sloten at the game, he continued the sentiment that he has expressed to me all season, that the team is starting to believe and that the bar has been set once again.
This is a tough choice, but I feel that things are clicking at Swindon well enough and I’m confident that they would have made the most of their time at camp. Swindon to win.
Bournemouth Bobcats vs Hertfordshire Cheetahs
At fourth in the conference, the Bournemouth Bobcats are hoping to ruin the Cheetahs run this weekend in the showdown of the big cats. The team are looking forward at six games in eight weeks and a win this weekend would tie them for third in the conference and in a better position to chase down the leaders for the promotion with all teams are almost over the hump and on the home stretch.
Still undefeated atop the conference the Cheetahs are comfortably two games ahead of their pursuers, the Berkshire Renegades, who are at 3-1 with just over half the points scored then the Cheetahs. Averaging 40 and change per game scored including two shutout wins the Cheetahs don’t seem to show any signs of slowing down. Coming off a two-week break from games, the team will be well rested and ready to go against the Bobcats who they held to only 8 points in their last meeting in week 4.
As much as watching a streak break is fun, watching one continue is equally as enjoyable and this weekend I’m expecting the Cheetahs to continue on undefeated and go 6-0.
Wembley Stallions vs East Essex Sabres
So here we go. The playoff perennials vs the new kids on the block. Wembley are sitting pretty after trampling the Blitz ( sorry, not sure where the random prediction came from was just looking for some drama.)
The Sabres sit at 0 and 3 and now come up against their hardest test all year. A real story of the imperfect vs the perfect.
Wembley continue the streak, the Sabres continue to improve and the conference goes on as normal. Stallions win.
Ipswich Cardinals vs London Blitz B
After rumours of low numbers the Cardinals have bolstered their ranks and welcome both the Blitz and the Football America travelling store to their snazzy home ground this weekend.
This is a mid-table battle from 2 teams that need a win. The Blitz fizzled against the conference favourite Stallions and denied us the upset that would have given us some intrigue. It seems this has become a 2 horse race…
The Blitz have been solid but need to tip the scale to more points scored than conceded. Despite the razzmatazz on the sideline I’m backing the Blitz again.