The playoff contenders in the South may have already been decided but there’s still everything to play for in the North, and a lot of pride to be played out in the South.
Merseyside Nighthawks vs Edinburgh Wolves
The nighthawks have come away from last week with their win streak intact after an amazing game against the Sheffield Giants. The game was tight with the Nighthawks stealing away the victory in the dying seconds of the game. Meanwhile up in Scotland the Wolves will be looking to cement their place in top flight football.
The Wolves have had a nice long break with their last game being played in Week Nine with their shock defeat to the Giants. This could have a positive effect on the team. The coaching staff will have spent the time preparing for the Nighthawks and giving their players the much needed rest. The mistakes which lead to the defeat at home will need to be rectified if the Wolves have any chance of winning this game. The last time these two team met the Wolves came away victorious with the likes of Dave Orr and Jamie Morrison looking to continue their form from the last game.
As for the Nighthawks, spirits must be high, as they got away with daylight robbery in Sheffield. Once again the Nighthawk’s offence looked on top form as QB Ben Robinson led the team in the shootout. Turnovers nearly cost the Nighthawks but the special teams unit did well to prevent the field goal in the dying minutes to keep the Nighthawks afloat. Merseyside will not want to be in this position again this week.
This game will be interesting. With a well-rested hungry Wolves team coming to face off against the on-form nighthawks the result of this game are hard to predict. However, from personal experience a team who come off long breaks usually need some time to adjust back into game speed. For this reason I will have to give this game to the Nighthawks. Nighthawks to win.
East Kilbride Pirates vs Tamworth Phoenix
The last time these two sides met the Pirates just seemed to stay on the bus. Losing 48-0, an extremely shocking result, the Pirates will be looking to put a dent in the championship campaign of the ‘Nix.
EKP have shown sparks of former glory throughout the season but they just do not seem to be able to rekindle the fire they once had. After losing two games on the trot the Pirates coaching staff will need to patch the holes in their ship quickly if they want to stay afloat. The Pirates will need to do well on both sides of the ball if they want to defeat the juggernaut that is Tamworth. Thanks to the Wolverines the Pirates are unlikely to drop out of prem ball, and with a young squad I have no doubt that they will get better as the season progresses.
As for Tamworth, with last game showing that they not only have talent on the starters but also have a lot of depth within their squad. QB Oscar Russell scored his first TD against the wolverines and as usual the Nix running back core have been strong with Adam Hope and Elliott Walters doing their part, and Ryan Reid showing he can also ball. On the defensive side of the ball players such as Wayne Drew and Raphael Omozusi have been playing well and it shows in their recent results having conceded less than 30 points in the last four games.
Another easy game this week. The ‘Nix have been strong all season and will only continue to get better as they ramp up for playoff football. Although I believe the pirates will also improve as the season goes on I do not see them plugging the necessary holes to beat this nix on this occasion. Tamworth to win.
Sheffield Giants vs Lancashire Wolverines
After having a win stolen from them, the Giants take on the bottom of the barrel Wolverines. The Wolverines are yet to notch up a win and recently forfeited a game against the Phoenix. This is one of the more important fixtures of the conference as both team are still fighting for premiership survival
The Giants have made huge strides to stay above board in the second half of the season. After beating a strong Wolves team and stretching the Nighthawks, the Giants can be happy with their recent performances. The team has seemed to jell, with their offence playing balls-to-the-wall, led by QB Brad Thompson and other offensive weapons such as RB Sam Broughton and Josh Allen. On the defensive side the Giants have struggled a little, but players have stepped up and played well, such as Matthew Sherridan who got an important interception in the latter stages of last week’s game.
Meanwhile the Wolverines have not had much luck. They have struggled against almost every team they have played this season, including losing to the Giants 35-7. Overall the Wolverines have not been able to do much on either side of the ball, scoring a measly 80 points in six games – our readers will remember that the London Warriors scored 98 in one game. this year It’s difficult to see the Wolverines staying in prem ball next season.
London Warriors vs London Blitz
Well, after the extremely close result the last time these two teams met we should be in for a treat of a game this weekend as the Warriors host the Blitz. The Warriors undoubtedly want to show the Blitz that they still mean business and won’t be letting their National Champion title slip this season. With the Warriors hosting they should have been able to claim the home field advantage, however due to construction work being done at their regular club they are hosting the game away from their normal field. They should still be able to bring strong numbers into this game and with an average of 44 points per game this could make for a high scoring match up.
The Blitz only have three games left this season with the Warriors making up two of these fixtures and with the team having not lost a game yet so far, the road to the Britbowl is not an easy one. Blitz Head Coach Damian Anderson said ‘Overall we’re in a good place heading into this weekend’s game against the Warriors. We’re playing with more focus than we were at the start of the season, and we’re really seeing guys communicating and trusting each other, which is what team play is all about. However, this will be the biggest test of our season so far. We clenched a narrow victory in our first game against the Warriors back in May, and we’re expecting a tough re-match south of the river.’
With this being the biggest and toughest game for both teams so far this season this will no doubt be a very good game to watch. I’m going to back the Warriors for this one but I think the Blitz will be sure to give them a run for their money.
Bury Saints vs Bristol Aztecs
With the 3rd place team facing off against the 4th place team this game should give an insight into how the final standings will be for the season. The Saints and Aztecs are yet to face each other and with both teams having scored similarly against their competition so far I think this game could be a close match. When asked about how the team feel about the upcoming fixture Chairman Shaz Begg said ‘Bristol are a team we haven’t faced yet but have great Premiership pedigree so it’s going to be a great challenge. I think this game will truly reflect where we stand in the top flight. We are confident that we can get a result against the Aztecs and have every intention to finish the season 5-5, this would be a great achievement in our debut season.’ The Saints could be coming into this game without their starting QB Fred Boyle, when asked about if it would affect the result Shaz said ‘We have had some unfortunate injuries and lost some key players that could have influenced some games. But this is football and people have to step up. No room for excused.’
The Aztecs had Blitz and Warriors back to back for 4 weeks so would have been pleased to get the win against Farnham on Sunday. This week they head the long journey to Bury for their first match up against the Saints. With the toughest part of their season out of the way they have four games left in the season so should be aiming to get at least another win or two. Head Coach Chris Powles said ‘the team is glad to have finally got a win, the first since April, it’s good to get after competing in some tough games. We know Bury are a tough team and have some great players, they’ve been very successful over the last 2 years for good reason. It’s a long trip so we’ll work on getting the guys there and we’re excited for the second half of the season.’ With the long journey ahead the Aztecs will need to bring their full force to ensure that the Saints don’t take advantage of the home crowd.