BAFA NL ’19 | Power Rankings: Premiership Week Eleven

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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:

 

12. Edinburgh Wolves (1-6-0) | Down Two

A hefty defeat for the Wolves as they headed south the Sheffield in Week Eleven, and all of a sudden the Edinburgh outfit find themselves a game behind both the Falcons and Giants in the race to dodge the drop to D1 football.

Departures to Europe and injuries in key areas have left their offence struggling to put up points or sustain drives, and you can see it taking its toll on an actually very respectable D that simply spending too much time on the field.

They’ll play host to a Manchester outfit that seem to have gotten their mojo working these past couple weeks, and with the Phoenix incoming the following week the Wolves know they’re running low on opportunities to save their season.

 

11. Farnham Knights (1-7-0) | No Change

Ouch.

One week removed from their clutch victory over the Exiles and the Knights seemed to have left their lances at home in their joust against the Olympians, skewered with a 68-6 defeat more reminiscent of a tilt against the Blitz or Warriors than an Os outfit that have now essentially ensured they’ll be playing Premiership football in 2020 with a third win on the year (and h2h over the Knights.)

Still, the Knights can still somewhat control their fates: Kent did them a favour by getting the better of Bristol for a second time and so should Farnham win on the road over both the Aztecs and Exiles later in July there’s still the possibility of avoiding the drop to D1 football.

 

10. Kent Exiles (2-4-0) | Up Two

What to make of these Exiles?

A disappointing defeat against Farnham was followed by an impressively resilient win over the long-established Premiership programme, that is the Bristol Aztecs.

The victory shifts Kent out of the bottom spot in the table, but they still need at least another victory to ensure they’re safe from a swift return to middle tier football – can they scratch up another upset win when they host the Olympians on Sunday?

With the Os riding high after their unceremonious unhorsing of the Knights, Kent’s D will need to be on top form this weekend and not allow the Os to run away with the game in the second half such as when these two teams last met.

9. Bristol Aztecs (2-4-0) | Down Three

Though in some ways this has been a ‘typical’ Prem South season, with the two big London clubs a clear cut above the competition (and one of those a sizeable cut above the other), the lower two thirds of the Prem South have actually ended up being the most hotly-contested we’ve seen them in quite some time!

Just when it seemed like the Aztecs were getting their act together and ready to reclaim their #3 spot in the south, an underperforming offence once against saw them come up short against the Exiles, ensuring we still have three teams in the game of relegation musical chairs.

They take a big tumble down the ranks, somewhat surprisingly still holding themselves above an Exiles outfit that have bested them twice.

They’ll hope to have short memories as they play host to the Blitz on Sunday, who though they’ve shown vulnerabilities of their own this summer will still be coming into the game as hot favourites.

 

8. Leicester Falcons (2-5-0) | No Change

Leicester lose, but in fairness to the Falcons they held their own through most of their clash with the Phoenix in Week Eleven – a handful of breakaway plays by Tamworth RB, Elliot Walters, playing a key role in opening up a sizeable margin of victory for the Phoenix that probably doesn’t reflect how closely matched the teams were for much of the fixture.

In some ways, Leicester’s loss is perhaps less concerning than some of the injuries they seemed to be picking up as the game ground on.

Through four quarters two starting wideouts were forced out of the game, monster runner Marcus Francis clearly isn’t fully returned to full health despite returning to the field on Sunday, and perhaps most worrying of all was a late-game injury to standout playmaker Taylor Brown, who limped from field after coming a misstep away from posting up his second score of the game on a dangerous fourth-quarter return.

 

7. London Olympians (3-3-0) | Up Two

Well then – where’d that come from?

Having been handed a hefty loss by the Warriors in Week Ten, it seems the Olympians took some lessons from their cross-city brethren and turned them against the Knights – storming to the strongest offensive performance we’ve seen from the Claret and White outfit in quite some time!

Crucially, the win was enough to ensure the Os won’t be seeing D1 football next season, and so they can now turn their attention to locking up the #3 spot in the South they stole from Bristol in 2018 – a second win of the season over the Exiles this Sunday would be a great place to start.

 

6. Sheffield Giants (2-6-0) | Up Two

They’re not out of woods just yet, but a confident performance from the Giants for a second win in their three most recent outings means that the Yorkshire side have given themselves a fair chance of dodging the drop.

Tough fixtures against the Titans and Nighthawks remain ahead of them, and so while a win would certainly be a massive boost to their chances of remaining a top tier team, they’ll also take a lot of comfort from the fact that their Week Eleven win over the Wolves allowed them to take control of the head to head tiebreaker over at least one of their two rivals for relegation.

 

5. Merseyside Nighthawks (5-2-0) | No Change

Frustrated to fall backwards in their quest for the top spot in the Prem North, the Nighthawks willingness to nonetheless keep battling means they still hold an ace up their sleeve with a three-point margin head-to-head over the Titans, courtesy of two fourth-quarter scores on Sunday.

Win out, look for Manchester to slip up against Tamworth, and a three-way 8-2 tie is still a possibility… and once those tiebreakers kick off anything’s possible!

First though, they head to a bye before returning to host the Falcons in the week prior to BAFCACon.

 

4. Tamworth Phoenix (7-1-0) | No Change

Phoenix win, but even though the Blitz took a drubbing, the Midlands outfit still don’t return to a top three spot this week.

Sunday’s final scoreline was somewhat flattering to the Phoenix, who though clearly the better all-around team in their short trip to the Falcons, held only a 0-7 lead at the half and extended their lead courtesy of breakaway plays rather than an ability to sustain drives against a Falcons D that kept finding its way into Tamworth’s backfield.

Still, they limited their mistakes and made the most of the opportunities afforded them, able to walk away from their first fixture since the shock loss to the Titans with their heads held high and still holding onto the top spot in the Prem North.

A bye week beckons, ahead of hosting the Wolves in Week Thirteen.

 

3. London Blitz (5-2-0) | No Change

It’s a credit to the Blitz’s pedigree that despite suffering their second devastating defeat of the season, they’re still considered a top three team in the country!

Sunday’s loss will have been a tough pill to swallow for this justifiably prideful outfit as Blitz fans got to watch the B side send Swindon home with a large loss, while the top tier team got bloodied in a one-sided smashing that went even further than last year’s record-setting 51-8 rout.

They’ll hope to bounce back against Bristol this weekend.

 

2. Manchester Titans (5-1-0) | No Change

The Titans offence was in fine form once again this weekend as they outpaced the Nighthawks in the second meeting between the two teams.

A starting receiver lost to ejection will hurt as they hit the long road north to Edinburgh this weekend, but as yet more playmakers return from injury the Titans still feel they’re still getting stronger as the season goes on!

Perhaps they let the foot off the gas in the fourth, or Merseyside recognised what was at stake and balled out for some potentially playoff-clinching extra points, but big picture the Titans’ fate is theirs to control. Win out, and a Prem North title is theirs, along with home-field advantage against, most likely, a vulnerable looking London Blitz in the playoffs.

 

1. London Warriors (7-0-0) | No Change

As the gulf between the Warriors as the rest of Britball continues to widen, we’re seeing increasing queries as to why the Warriors aren’t looking at Europe as a way to finally bring some real ‘competition’ back to their season.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are… eventually.

But such a move isn’t as simple as many seem to think it is, and the Allen clan & co will be all too aware that the last time they dabbled with European football the injuries, the expense, and in truth the lure of euro balling for some of their star playmakers, most likely played a major factor in the Warriors missing out on the 2017 National Championship.

Let alone, that as things stand with regards the strictly amateur nature of the sport in the UK? They simply wouldn’t be playing on an even playing field against continental sides that can essentially buy in star talent from the states.

For now, therefore, it’s on the rest of Britball to play catch up… if they can.

 


 

This year we’ll also be tracking the rise and fall of each team in the rankings throughout the season with this handy graphic:

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Nick

Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1