Big boy football in the Premier this weekend as we enter the post-season with the semi-finals. One more win sends teams through to Britbowl. Will Tamworth finally take the extra step? Will the Warriors bounce back from a regular season finale defeat and continue their Britbowl dominance?
It’s prediction time…
Tamworth Phoenix vs London Warriors
Owners of the only 10-0 perfect regular season in the top tier, the North champions, Tamworth Phoenix, host the London Warriors following their second placed finish in the South.
The ‘Nix finished the season strongly with a dominant 62-3 win over runners-up, Merseyside Nighthawks. Having completed a perfect regular season in 2016, the Atherstone-based side ran riot through the confernce once again, averaging just shy of a #50burger a game (49.4 points per game), whilst conceding just 7.9 points per game defensively – including three shutout victories – under Coach Jason Scott and his #projectHAVOC.
Perhaps even more impressively, under the tutelage of Offensive Line Coach Gary Hodgen, the OL gave up just 4 sacks. ALL. SEASON.
Speaking with ‘Nix Head Coach Martin Hilton in the run up to the semi-final, he reiterated the organisation’s belief that they can end the London monolopy of Britbowl;
We’re looking forward to the game and everyone is working hard to make sure we’re ready. I’m not surprised by that though as that’s what we’ve done all season. The players and coaches have been incredible in their preparation and attitude in every game. The unbeaten record is a credit to them as we’ve had to battle past some determined skilled opponents in the Premier North but we know we’ve got another huge game this weekend.
I’m sure a lot of people out there won’t give us much chance of winning and I understand why they’d think that. Its been the London teams in the final for such a long time. The Warriors have talented players and coaches on both sides of the ball. We’re playing the team that’s won the Nation Championship for the last 4 years and we’ve got to go out and prove we can beat them, but that’s what the team is focused on and there’s belief that we can do it.
A two loss regular season? Panic stations! We jest. The Warriors finished 8-2 in the Premier South, suffering their only defeats at the hands of the conference topping London Blitz (with a win for the Warriors sandwiched in between).
The fate of the two sides came down to a well-scheduled final day of the season clash between the pair, with the winner taking home the conference crown and home field advantage in the semi-finals. The Warriors came up short on the day, but will be buoyed by their systematic dismantling of all other Premier South opponents in 2017 – including a 0-98 demolition job on the road at Farnham.
As is now tradition with the Warriors, we were unable to obtain comment from the Warriors camp, who presumably are entering ‘Going Dark’ mode and focused on reaching yet another Britball.
Every year, members of #TeamDC believe/hope (delete as applicable) that the ‘Nix can finally take that next step, reach Britbowl and end the dominance of the Warriors and Blitz. Following back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, are Tamworth finally in a position to dethrone the Warriors? Well, not quite. Five members of the writing staff lean with Tamworth, whereas the majority believe that the Warriors will once again feature at the final in Worcester.
London Blitz vs Merseyside Nighthawks
The Blitz won the Premier South conference with a second victory over the Warriors last weekend. The 40-21 victory was a far more convincing margin that the single point win earlier in the season, with one of our staffers in attendance telling us that the Blitz simply ‘wanted’ it more than their cross-city rivals.
Tied for the #2 ranked offense across the top tier (with London Warriors), the Blitz averaged 39.8 points per game. Defensively, the Blitz ranked #3 across the Premier, conceding 15.1 per game. However, a shoutout goes to Dotun Ademiju in the Blitz secondary. The former Birmingham Bull and Sandwell Steeler transferred to the Blitz ahead of the 2017 season and in his debut campaign in the top flight has equalled the Blitz single season interception record (8) with potentially two more games to play.
Looking ahead to the semi-final clash, Defensive Coordinator Duncan Burford spoke with Premier South correspondent Rose Wilford;
This is really the business end of the season now that we’re playing knock out football. We need to focus on corrections from the last game and how we carry improvements into this weekend. Merseyside are in the playoffs for a reason so we’re going to bring our best effort come Sunday.
The Nighthawks, meanwhile, enjoyed a stellar sophomore campaign in the Premier North. Back-to-back 7-3 regular season records in the top flight since promotion from Division One have proven Merseyside have the talent to compete at the top level.
Losses to Tamworth aside (who doesn’t lose to the ‘Nix in the North?), the only other defeat for HC Craig Pennington’s team came in the 41-36 shootout at newly promoted Edinburgh Wolves, against whom the Nighthawks had many an entertaining game while in Division One.
Our only cleen sweep of the weekend’s post-season action sees every member of #TeamDC opt for the 9-1 London Blitz to progress past the Nighthawks and on to Britbowl.