Week Three is upon us, and with it we have an abundance of games. A little delayed, but it’s prediction time!
Aberdeen Roughnecks vs Clyde Valley Blackhawks
Slow start for the Aberdeen offense, taking the win 6-2 over Glasgow, but stout defense and when you get out of your opening game against your biggest rivals with a win, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Minimal points conceded is important in a tie-breaker situation for playoff seeding too, so while it might not have been glamorous, it’s mission accomplished for week one for the Roughnecks. Clyde Valley open their account this week, with their first league game since the end of the 2015 season and they’ll be hoping that he players who remain with D1 experience will push the rookies on and help them stake their claim for the playoffs. It’s difficult to tell how they’ll shape up in this opener – they didn’t blow the roof off in their associate games but there’s been plenty of time to sharpen since then.
I don’t expect a blowout here by any stretch of the imagination but I think that the Roughnecks opener will have settled he nerves and helped get them into the groove and I think the O will push on from there.
Clyde Valley are the one team who didn’t return their questionnaire in this conference prior to the season, so there may be secret weapons we don’t know about but failing that I expect the Roughnecks to take this by two scores.
Glasgow Tigers vs Dumfries Hunters
Glasgow get straight back on the wagon after an opening week loss where their offense failed to trouble the scoreboard. Not an ideal start to the season but only conceding six points gives the chance to win games with a bit of offensive execution so if the defense can remain as stout, wins won’t be long in coming. Dumfries take to the field in their first ever competitive league encounter and will be keen for it after waiting in the wings for the last couple of years.
I expect the southerners to be the hungrier and more aggressive team here and I think that’s gonna be the difference maker. Expect a scrappy encounter and probably not a high scorer, but I think Dumfries will open their league account with the win.
Gateshead Senators vs Northumberland Lightning
Gateshead’s first on-field league victory since the 5th July 2015 when they beat Chester 44-0 saw them defeat the Carlisle Sentinels 42-6 with touchdowns spread around the offense to the likes of Darren Mould, Ryan Fletcher, Stephen Taylor and Gavin Barr. Defensively the Senators allowed the Sentinels just one extended drive.
Meanwhile, Northumberland suffered a heavy 46-6 defeat to one of the newsboys in the division the Morecambe Bay Storm. They will have come into the division with high hopes, but they were dashed in week one and they will have to pick themselves up against one of the division favourites. On a positive note the Lightning did gain 174 yards through the air but struggled on the ground, the huge negative being they turned the ball over SEVEN times.
Gateshead will really fancy their chances of making it to 2-0 and putting a few more points on the board. The Lightning will be hoping for an improved performance against their nearest rivals, but this one goes to the men in Green.
Walney Terriers vs Morecambe Bay Storm
Well, well, well, Morecambe Bay made this correspondent look foolish with their rampant performance over the Lightning. Not many associate teams come into the league and almost produce a 50-burger first time up. QB Chris Mayne threw for 225 yards and four touchdowns (with two INT) and scampered in for another. The defense turned the ball over seven times, SS Jim Mawson picking off a hat-trick of interceptions.
Walney also picked up victory in their opening game of the season, a 27-14 win over the Knottingley Raiders, only their second victory in three season in the BAFA National Leagues. That’s an impressive victory for the Terriers against a side who won six games in their associate campaign and ran division favourites the Leeds Bobcats close in 46-40 defeat, especially when you consider they were 14-0 down at the half. The run game was the key to victory, with Offensive Line Coach Alex Mbuli adjusting the blocking scheme at half time, four rushing touchdowns followed turning the tide with Joe Allington scampering in twice.
These two sides faced off twice last season, with the Terriers running out victorious in shutout victories 36-0 & 21-0, but the Storm will be full of confidence and I fancy them to make this a whole lot closer. However, I’ll take the hosts in this one.
Knottingley Raiders vs Carlisle Sentinels
Guest written by Frankie Pankhurst
Humber Warhawks vs Crewe Railroaders
The Crewe Railroaders play their 3rd fixture in 3 weeks as they travel to the young Humber Warhawks on Sunday.
To say that the Railroaders are finding life in the SFC 2 South a challenge in 2017 would be an understatement. Having lost in week 1 to the Chester Romans 68-0 (with the running clock it makes losing by such a score quite an achievement…), they then managed to put up more of a fight last weekend against the lackluster Lincolnshire Bombers, only losing 31-7. However, that same Lincolnshire side lost by 34 points in week 1, so it is fair to assume that they aren’t exactly title challengers this year, which begs the question, just how awful are Crewe? Fortunately we will get the answer to that question this weekend after the result against fellow wooden spoon challenger Humber.
Humber come into this game with a lot of question marks. They are a youthful organisation that appears to be making small strides each year, however they did struggle in 2016 to make their mark. It will be interesting to see how they have developed in the off-season.
With this being their first game of the season we expect plenty of mistakes as they knock the rust off. This will be a tight game, but we feel that Crewe are so poor this season that as long as Humber don’t gift them several TDs they should be starting their season with a W.
Shropshire Revolution vs Halton Spartans
The Shropshire revolution got off to the perfect start in week one as they disposed of the Lincolnshire Bombers 42-8 and will be expecting to move to 2&0 on Sunday as they welcome Halton to town. It may be early, but they have to surely be setting their sites on a division crown.
Halton have been doing a great job building an impressive new organisation and we hope that everything we have seen them bring to the league continues to flourish in 2017. They have a product off the field that most teams in the league will be envious off, however now is the time that they need to see the on the field talent improve also. They head to Shropshire as underdogs following an indifferent 2016, but we are looking forward to see how they have developed in the long off season.
We expect the Revolution to have too much talent for the Spartans and take another stride towards a division crown, however we have seen crazier results this season and a shock Spartans win wouldn’t be so much of a shock…
Swindon Storm vs Bristol Apache
Swindon Storm were on the end of quite the beating against the Cornish Sharks last week, but one must remember that they are a team with a heavy number of rookies. While 31-0 would be a disappointing result for many teams, they did well to hold their own against players with many more years experience. Coach Rich Van Sloten was impressed with his team’s effort and found a lot of positives in the way all of their players played. In order to be competitive and have a winning record, Storm still have a way to go, but may start finding their feet as the season progresses..
Bristol had a very different start to the season to Storm, they won and convincingly. As predicted, Bristol Apache never had too many problems with the Raptors. Paul Romaniuk – who made Hudl’s highlight of the week – , had an incredible first game at running back and made light work of the opposition’s defense. With #TeamDC’s own Frankie Pankhurst joining the Bristol with his European experience, their offense may be aiming for higher score lines in future games. Having a very physical defense with players such as Adrian Helps and Lewis Wade, Storm will need to work harder than last week in order to find their way into the Apache endzone.
With game experience, some of the guys on Swindon will have gotten over the first game nerves, but Bristol will be too strong for a team with large amounts of rookies.
Worcestershire Black Knights vs Jurassic Coast Raptors
We knew that Worcestershire would surprise people and shouldn’t be underestimated, but to hold Torbay as close as they did (who held the Sharks close) …well…we’re listening now! Causing five fumbles against the Torbay O and preventing red zone stops, their defense really were the highlight of the game. Josh Chambers showed why he deserves his spot at linebacker with several tackles in the backfield and sacks. James Styles was a workhorse all game, rushing the Torbay QB and being a general nuisance for the offense (even making himself into a meme in the process). Their offense managed to move the ball quite a bit and just struggled to push the ball over the endzone when they needed it. Still, to put on the same amount of points against Torbay that the sharks did, the Black Knights have shown that they will be a competitive unit this season.
The Raptors have had new recruits this year and understood that Bristol was a rough ride this early in the season. Their defense struggled heavily and enabled Bristol to achieve long distance plays. I have seen some tape of the game, the Raptors must be more aggressive against their opposition in order to stop the first downs. The Raptors must walk away with the positives and note that they did score a TD against Apache (ask last year’s opponents, this isn’t easy!). Considering they were on the receiving end of a 50 burger last year, this is an improvement and they must continue this upwards trend throughout the season.
Worcestershire impressed me last week. If they cut out their penalties and find a way to finish their drives, I don’t see why they can’t win.
Bournemouth Bobcats vs Hastings Conquerors
A week off from their one-score loss to the Dreadnoughts the Bobcats will look to level themselves back to .500 and keep themselves up in the table this weekend against the Conquerors. Ensuring that their star receiver #13 – Barnes, is kitted up on the sideline this week will definitely aid the team. Their ethos was to keep working hard and to keep their focus away from the negativity of the previous game has been implemented heavily in their training sessions.
The Conquerers took a knock in a 63-0 week 1 loss to the Cheetahs. Training sessions in between the two games has given time for Hastings to prepare for this weekend’s game, tinkering and streamlining the system to run smoother and bring rookies into the fold. Spirits are still high and the team is excited for their second game this season.
The smaller loss and points on the board as well as the key WR returning to the Bobcats sideline this week will give the Bobcats the win.
Maidstone Pumas vs Portsmouth Dreadnoughts
The last of the teams to play their opening game of the season the Pumas have had two extra weeks of preparation for the coming season which for them will begin this Sunday against the 1-0 Dreadnoughts. The anticipation of a large number of rookies is adding pressure to the first game of the season for the Pumas, using this time to simulate games has not been wasted but the real thing can be very different.
With a win under their belts and facing a team they met twice last season the Dreadnoughts will look to capitalise on the good spirits of a win this weekend at their home game opener. The advantage of a win and game time experience to knock off-season dust away may just give the Dreadnoughts the win this weekend.
The Dreadnoughts will take the win, although not scoring huge numbers last week the team has played and put numbers on the board. However, don’t count the Pumas out of putting up a good fight with all that time to practice.