BAFA NL ’19 | Way Too Early Predictions… Division Two South

The season hasn’t even got underway, most teams are playing their cards close to their chest… Surely now’s hardly the time to be taking a look at which teams we think will be rising to the top in their respective conferences this year… right? 

Well, those awesome chaps over at the UK American Football Scene have already been quizzing the Britball Nation on who they think’s gonna top out each table in 2019, so in a time-honoured tradition, DC’s gonna take a swing at it too!

We’ll take a peek at each conference, working our way up the Divisions to the Premiership, picking all the winners along the way and seeing how DC’s picks compare with the community’s!

Division Two South

The SFC 2 West sees a small reshuffle during the offseason, as a longtime South-West contender returns to the fold after a brief foray in the middle tier!

Learn more about the shape of things in the South West in our SFC 2 West Preview.

For now, let’s jump into who we think’ll be finishing where this summer:

Who’ll take the crown?

The UKAFS vote went heavily in favour of the South Wales Warriors, and it’s pretty tough to argue against last season’s undefeated (indeed, largely unchallenged) champions going back to back. The Bristol Apache didn’t get much love in the polls, which is a tad surprising as it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a team immediately bounce back up after dropping down a tier.

Even so, the Warriors numbers last season were hard to argue with. I’ve got them to go top, too.

Left holding a spoon?

Coming up last in the UKAFS polls were the Cornish Sharks but they did show some teeth at the very end of last season with back to back wins over the injury-plagued Raptors.

However, with no Jurassic Coast to prop them up the table, the Sharks will need to have recruited well during the offseason to lift themselves out of the lower half of the table.

Meanwhile, I have concerns about the Worcestershire Black Knights’ depth after their forfeit to finish out 2018, and so the lone meeting between Knights and Sharks in Week Eight might prove decisive. Still, when they were healthy the Black Knights were putting up good numbers last season, so I’m afraid I’ll have to go with the herd and pick the Sharks here, too.

Dark Horse?

The Torbay Trojans were one of the only teams to make the Warriors sweat last season, coming within a score of them in Week Twelve.

They’ve got a wealth of talent on the roster, but whether they can bring it to bear on the field remains to be seen. They need to get better at performing on the road, and their quarterback play was far from consistent in 2018.

Still, if they put all the pieces together they should certainly be considered playoff contenders, potentially even title rivals

The SFC 2 South appears a very different creature in 2019 – an offseason overhaul has reshaped the conference, necessitated by the departure of the top two teams from 2018: the Cheetahs and Dreadnoughts.

Take a deeper dive into what the changes mean for the Southmost conference in our SFC 2 South Preview.

For now, let’s see who both the ‘Nation and this pundit think’ll be taking a title come August:

Who’ll take the crown?

The polls over in the ‘Scene have the London Blitz B running away with this one… and you can’t really argue with the numbers from last season:

The Blitz Bs had double the wins last year than all four of their 2019 rivals managed, the same number of points scored as if you merged all their rivals offences together into one 22 game season, and about the same points conceded through the entire eight regular-season fixtures last year as the overall average of points conceded per game of their amalgamated contenders.

Left holding a spoon?

The polls had the two winless 2018 outfits, the Raptors and Conquerors tied for the spoon spot. Certainly, both programmes have a lot of work to do to play catch up this season, but I’m afraid I’ll have to choose the Conquerors as the team I fear might finish bottom again this year.

Dark Horse?

 

I think the Swindon Storm have a real shot at playoffs this year – if they can play to last year’s form, they might well have the best defence in the conference. However, they lacked any real spark on offence through most of last season and I think that’ll hinder their chances of pulling through for some of those crucial top-table wins. As such, I’m gonna go with the Bournemouth Bobcats as the team that might yet shake things up – they’ve shown they can put together a dangerous passing game when everything’s clicking and that can prove decisive at this level of the sport.

 

With the London Blitz Bs shifted sideways into the South, the throne of the SFC 2 East now sits vacant – but who will claim it?

I explore what this means for the remaining eastern outfits in our SFC 2 East Preview.

However, for now, let’s check out who both the wider community, and DC, believe will be fighting their way to the top of the table in 2019:

Who’ll take the crown?

The UKAFS polls have the Norwich Devils running away with this title, and if superb social media counted towards league standing? I wouldn’t be able to argue.

However, it’s worth remembering that the Ipswich Cardinals got the better of the Devils in the two teams’ meeting last season.

It wasn’t always glamorous, but Ipswich simply found a way to win in all of their fixtures outside those against the Blitz last season, and so they’ll be my pick for 2019’s title.

Left holding a spoon?

The polls saw the Maidstone Pumas and East Essex Sabres tied for last place, and considering the season-closing 10-12 scoreline between these two last year, that seems pretty justified.

It’s been an active offseason of awesome fundraising for the Sabres, but I’m unsure how much preseason action either of these two teams have had. I have to pluck for one, so I’ll opt for the Pumas to prop up the table this year. They need to start turning the hard work they’re doing behind the scenes into performance on the field.

Dark Horse?

The East Kent Mavericks could easily put something together this year, having weathered the storm that was a season in the hotly-contested SFC 1 East in 2018… However, my outside shot for the East will have to be the Essex Spartans. They were a much better outfit than their 3-5 record implied last season, and took a big preseason scalp with an 11-14 win over D1’s Colchester Gladiators in the #BattleForEssex preseason game!

So we’ve learned which teams we think will be contesting it, but who do we have actually fighting their way all the way to silverware this summer?

The Division Two southern champs will be…

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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