By Ryan Duff
There are only four games this week, but they will certainly be action packed in a week headlined by a match-up between the South’s undefeated powerhouses as the last two winners of Britbowl face off in London.
Game of the Week: London Blitz Vs Kent Exiles
Two of the remaining undefeated teams in the South meet this weekend as the Kent Exiles head to the capital.
Both the Exiles and Blitz have won their first two games in convincing fashion, and this week will help decide just who the strongest team in the division really is.
The London Blitz are yet to concede a point this season, opening their campaign by dispatching with local rivals, the London Warriors, 32-0 before putting up 52 points against a scoreless Cambridgeshire Cats. The two-time defending champions have the luxury of a host of talent on both sides of the ball with the likes of S Alex Greenhalgh leading a highly athletic secondary, whilst the offence boasts one of the nation’s top receivers in Leonardo Sophoclis. As always, it seems impossible to bet against such a strong team, but this week’s opponents will provide their toughest test so far.
The last team not called ‘London Blitz’ to take home Junior Britbowl returned to the top tier this season and quickly set about showing the league they belong here. The Exiles high powered offence led by GB QB George Reynolds– who has thrown seven touchdowns already this season- has hung 62 and 50 points on the Cats and Cougars respectively, whilst the Defence under the veteran leadership of Tyrese Peters-Tovey has done well to keep opposing offences out of the game and prevent either match from becoming a shoot-out. Despite these impressive performances, however, the Exiles will realise this week’s opponents are on a completely different level to their previous games.
Sunday’s game promises to be a closely fought match with huge implications on the final playoff picture. If both teams play as they have to this point for the remainder of this season, this may not be the last time these two teams face each-other before all is said and done in August.
Cambridgeshire Cats Vs SE Legion
In stark contrast to our “Game of the Week,” the two teams at the bottom of the table also face off this weekend in search of their first wins of the season.
The Cambridgeshire Cats made the step up to Division 1 over the off-season and have been given a rough start to the year; opening their campaign against arguably the two best teams in the division. Across two games, the Cats have scored 6 points and conceded 114 and now sit at the bottom of the table. Against such tough opposition however, the Cats cannot be judged too harshly, and with games against TVT and Wembley still to come, there’s no reason to completely count them out as of yet.
The Southeast Legion meanwhile played their first match as a team last week, falling 22-8 to the Thames Valley Tigers. With their first game out of the way, the Legion will hope to learn from their mistakes and quickly take their first win. The SE Legion are still very much an unknown quantity, and the promise shown by them scoring early in their first ever game definitely hints at some potential improvement in weeks to come.
Chorley Buccaneers vs East Kilbride Pirates
In a game set to be dominated by poorly thought out maritime puns, the Pirates travel down to face the Buccaneers as they try and keep their undefeated record.
East Kilbride have expectedly remained dominant this season despite the departure of key players and surprise injury to star RB Jack Cochrane early in Game One. Scott McKigen has done well in his first season as a full time starting QB, slinging deep ball after deep ball towards a strong receiving corps headlined by Michael Patton, who has found the endzone in both games this season.
Chorley meanwhile have only played the one game so far this season, losing 57-0 to last year’s Britbowl representatives, the Manchester Titans. The season does not appear to be getting easier, as a match-up against EKP always seems a daunting task.
Manchester Titans Vs Highland Wildcats
The Manchester Titans and Highland Wildcats face off this week in a game which should have major connotations come the post-season.
The Wildcats remain undefeated against English teams, but after beating the other Scottish team in the playoffs last year, the Titans will be confident they can be the ones to break this streak. With Ben Miles under centre, the Titans roasted the Buccaneers in a 57-0 blowout and will hope to carry on this momentum this week. The Wildcats will be no easy opponent however, and the chances of this game being as one-sided as Manchester’s season opener are incredibly low. The Wildcats’ passing attack proved devastatingly effective in their opening loss to EKP, with the WR trio of Sean McWilliams, Jalarth Riley and Alex Roberts-Devine each reeling in TDs from QB Stuart Sandison, but ultimately, the boys from Inverness failed to keep up with the Pirates.
Both teams are among the strongest in the division, but with EKP continuing their expected dominance, and Birmingham performing well with a comparatively easier schedule, this game is as much of a “must win” for both sides as one can expect so early in the season if they are to stand any chance of reaching Britbowl.