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In the meantime, let’s check out how the Patriots of the #BritballNation see things stacking up in the top tier after the weekend’s action:
Both the Lancashire Wolverines and Yorkshire Rams take a tumble from the top ten this week as the door to the playoffs closes for Yorkshire, and Lancashire learn they’ll now likely need a massive upset win against the Steelers in order to see postseason football.
It’s tough to pick any honourable mentions this week as the number of teams in the race for postseason action continues to thin. We now know who five of the eight playoff contenders will be, with only seven teams across three regions remaining in the race! The only two not included in this current top ten would be the Wolverines, and the Caesars.
10. Shropshire Revolution (5-3-0) | Re-Entry
The Revolution reappear in the rankings following a solid outing against the Mustangs, and a nice win over the Romans the week prior.
They control their own fates from here, but likely need to pick up at least one win from their remaining two fixtures – each against sides that have already beaten them once this summer already.
Circle their Week Sixteen fixture versus Nottingham as a potential playoff clincher.
9. Bury Saints (5-3-0) | Down One
The Saints may have won handily at the weekend, but in truth their postseason hopes still took a helluva blow courtesy of the Hornets picking up a win off the Cats.
While the London side’s win stalled Cambridgeshire from getting their claws on the crown, it was the Saints that suffered the most as they’ll now not only need to overturn the Hornets when the two teams meet in Week Fifteen, but even that might be rendered meaningless if the Stallions can’t do them a favour this Sunday and notch up a win over their capital rivals in the programme’s big charity doubleheader.
8. Hertfordshire Cheetahs (6-2-0) | Down Three
The Cheetahs take the biggest tumble this week, falling all the way down to #8 after a disappointing defeat to the Thunder in their Armed Forces Day fixture.
Though the Cheetahs more than held their own for most of the game, they struggled to make the big plays when they needed them, and though Adam Adeniji’s return to health is no doubt a boost, their passing game looked lacklustre when they needed to play catch up.
The defeat, and by a large enough margin as the Thunder piled in two fourth-quarter scores, means if the Cheetahs now want to see playoffs, their route most likely lies through the as-yet undefeated Thrashers in Week Sixteen.
7. Sussex Thunder (4-3-0) | Re-Entry
The Thunder reappear in the rankings in the same spot from which they departed back in Week Ten!
Sunday’s win over the Cheetahs puts them back in the black at 4-3-0, but more importantly gave them the head-to-head edge over their key rival for postseason football.
It might seem strange to some that a 4-3 team now looks odds-on for playoffs over a 6-2 one, but with Sussex’s remaining opponents featuring three teams they’ve already bested once this year, while Herts will have to take away a win from the Thrashers, Sussex are all of a sudden a hot pick for playoffs!
They host the Dreadnoughts this Sunday and simply need to avoid any slip-ups to get a great shot at extending their season.
6. London Hornets (7-1-0) | Up One
The Hornets climb a spot following their clutch win over the Cats at the weekend, though notably don’t yet advance above their SFC 1 East rivals in the rankings.
Though the victory means they’re one win away from playoff football – perhaps securing postseason action this weekend against Wembley – not being able to take the head-to-head away from the Cats means they look unlikely to lift a crown.
5. Cambridgeshire Cats (8-1-0) | Up One
Cats lose, but climb a rank – go figure!
But in truth, while I’m sure they’ll be gutted to lose their chance of an undefeated season, if Cambridgeshire were going to lose this is probably the best way to have done so – a narrow defeat against their hottest rival for the title that means Cambridgeshire now just need a London loss, or a win against the currently 0-7-0 Colchester in Week Sixteen, to lock up the title.
They might need a wait a while for their crown, but it’s still looking unlikely the Cats will go without their cream this summer.
4. Northumberland Vikings (6-1-0) | No Change
Despite finding it tough-sledging against the Tigers when the two teams met back in Week Two, the Vikings made short work of Glasgow in their second trip north of the wall, coming away with a shutout victory that only emphasised just how much of a two-horse race this conference has become.
The victory guarantees the Vikings postseason football, but now the key will be to attempt to steal away the top spot from the undefeated East Kilbride Pirates.
That’ll mean they can afford no slip-ups when they host the Rams this Sunday, before looking to make it three-for-three from trips beyond the border when they take on the Pirates in Week Fifteen.
3. East Kilbride Pirates (8-0-0) | No Change
Another week, another big win for the Pirates, and once again I’m pretty surprised to not see them force their way into the top two as their fifty-burger victory over Aberdeen emphasised just how far this roster has been able to develop this season – cruising to victory over a side that made them sweat back in Week One.
They’ll take a trip to the Senators this Sunday, and anything less than another burger would probably be considered a shortfall as the Pirates look to build momentum ahead of what’s expected to be a crucial season-closing clash with the Vikings.
2. Solent Thrashers (7-0-0) | No Change
When your top four teams all win by ~40pt margins it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between them… and as such, we don’t see any movement in the podium positions this week.
Solent made short work of the Dreadnoughts, which is notable as Pompey had been showing improving form over recent weeks, running the Cheetahs close and cruising past the Saints.
The win guarantees Solent postseason action once again, and though Herts can nominally still contest the crown, the Thrashers have the opportunity to lock up the title before the two teams meet for their second clash of the season, by getting the better of the one-win Saints and Renegades in the interim.
They’ll host Oxford this weekend, and desperate though the Saints may be to earn a drop-dodging win, Solent will be firm favourites for a comfortable victory.
1. Sandwell Steelers (8-0-0) | No Change
Steelers seal the deal on the NFC 1 South championship with two games in hand.
Their smallest margin of victory this season so far has been by five scores, and though they’ll potentially look to give some starters light duties in their remaining two fixtures, neither Lancashire or Shropshire should expect the Steel Curtain to suddenly show signs of weakness; Sandwell’s D currently have them holding the #1 seed in the North, and by some fair margin, but combine this incentive with the potential, I suspect, to smash some club records?
Don’t be surprised to see the Steelers disappointed with anything other than two shutouts to finish out the year.
This year we’ll also be tracking the rise and fall of each team in the rankings throughout the season with this handy graphic: