BUCS 18/19 Playoff Picks: Division Two Semi-Finals

And last, but by no means least, we have the two sets of fixtures coming out of the bottom tier!

The top seeds are still standing on both sides of the North/South divide, but we also see a couple of lower-seeded contenders who won’t be playing D1 football next year still competing to prove they’re more than capable of the same should BUCS choose to make the D2 postseason more meaningful!

The North

Leeds Gryphons (1) vs Staffordshire Stallions (7)

Leeds continue to look untouchable, while the Stallions have impressed with their grit in recent weeks – they might have missed out on promotion this season, but it’s not stopped them chasing hard to prove themselves more than up to the task!

Record
 6-0-0  4-2-0
Offence
 43.6
(1st)
29.5
(4th)
 Defence
 1.20
(1st)
 6.33
(6th)
Previous Round

Leeds: Leeds put in a dominant showing against the Heriot-Watt Wolverines, taking a 45-0 victory and continuing to look every bit a worthy #1 seed.

Staffordshire: The Stallions meanwhile took a long trip north of the wall to take on the #2 seeded Edinburgh Predators, and impressed with an outstanding defensive performance that saw them return south with a 6-13 win over a side that’ll be playing middle-tier football next season!

Season High:

Leeds: They’re number one seed and ranked 1st in offensive and defensive rankings in the tier. Their whole season’s been a high.

Staffordshire: The Stallions might’ve bookended their campaign with narrow losses, but for a good stretch in the middle there they looked unstoppable! Three straight shutout wins where they averaged 40-point victories saw them feature in the Power Rankings throughout much of the season.

Season Low:

Leeds: I legitimately don’t know if these guys have had any lows so far this year… They allowed Liverpool to score the lone score they conceded all season long, back in Week Two?

Staffordshire: The double-overtime defeat to the Falcons immediately stands out… But in truth, the Stallions’ season had been scuppered a good few months earlier, though they probably didn’t know it at the time. Their day one loss to the Eagles would mean they’d get no shot at promotion this season, no matter how many big scorelines they racked up.

When last they met…

Ooh, we’re going back a bit here…

Looks like we’re going back a decade to 2008/9, when the Leeds Celtics travelled to the undefeated Stallions in the first round of the postseason, suffering a 6-27 loss to one-time Uniball powerhouse.

—–

You can’t argue with the Gryphons dominance this season… but it wouldn’t be the first time this postseason the Stallions have upset the seedings if they pull off the win here!

Who wins?

Click or tap the spoiler tab below to reveal our BUCS office picks, as well as the results of the Britball Nation Pick’em poll!

Spoiler
BUCS Office:

Pick’Em Poll:

Gryphons take both the polls, but it’s a credit to the Stallions’ impressive form this season that a team that has no shot at middle tier football next season can still pick up a hefty chunk of the polls!

 

 

 

 

DMU Falcons (3) vs Liverpool Raptors (4)

The Falcons’ flight to the top of Division Two continues, but one side intent on clipping their wings is a Raptors outfit eager to prove they’re just as worthy of middle tier action should the system allow it!

Record
 5-1-0 5-1-0
Offence
 17.17
(14th)
 29.33
(5th)
 Defence
 9.50
(15th)
 4.5
(3rd)
Previous Round

DMU: DMU earned their first (ever?) postseason with a squeaker – a 21-20 victory over the visiting Sunderland Spartans!

Liverpool: The Raptors, meanwhile, put in a rather convincing showing against the Falcons’ 2A Midlands rivals, the Eagles, 33-0!

Season High:

DMU: Their 9-8 win over the Eagles was crucial.., But their double-overtime win in Week Twelve against the Stallions was clutch.

Liverpool: Outside their season-opener against the Gryphons the Raptors have conceded only a single score this season. They roar into the playoffs off the back of five-straight wins and three-straight shutouts, including an oh-too-rare fifty burger win over Aber in Week Ten.

Season Low:

DMU: Though they’ll hit the playoffs with five-straight wins, DMU did lose one game this season… perhaps a little bizarrely against a Huddersfield Hawks side that wouldn’t win another game all winter.

Liverpool: The Raptors loss to Leeds in their opener was pretty much their only shortfall in an otherwise impressive campaign.

When last they met…

The Raptors only joined the league in 15/16, and having not shared a conference, this’ll be the first time these two teams clash.

—–

DMU come in as the higher seeds, but statistical underdogs once again… Can they continue their unbeaten streak all the way to a Northern final?

Who wins?

Click or tap the spoiler tab below to reveal our BUCS office picks, as well as the results of the Britball Nation Pick’em poll!

Spoiler
BUCS Office:

Pick’Em Poll:

Urr… ok then.

The pundits poll was split right down the middle with four-a-piece… and then the community clearly decided to follow suit as we saw each outfit pick up exactly 146 votes and remain deadlocked!

We don’t really have a tiebreak policy for playoff games in this new format… You kinda don’t expect 300 votes to end in a draw!

However, if I personally had to choose? I’d take the Raptors. I suspect the only team they’re really afraid of is the Gryphons, though it’ll be interesting to see if Liverpool perform to potential on the road.

 

 

The South

Essex Blades (1) vs Bournemouth Bobcats (4)

Essex have impressed all season long, but perhaps face their stiffest test of the season so far when they welcome the Bobcats on Sunday! The South West conference’s postseason reps both put in impressive performances in the quarter-finals, the Bobcats boasting a 40-0 win in the programme’s postseason debut!

Record
 6-0-0  6-1-0
Offence
 30.33
(3rd)
 20.00
(9th)
 Defence
 4.67
(4th)
6.4
(7th)
Previous Round

Essex: Heading into the first round we asked whether the Blades were the real deal – sure, they were the best team in the 2A South East, but would they be able to keep pace with teams out of other conferences?

Essex answered that query comfortably – their defence shutting down the Saxons to take a 10-0 win.

Bournemouth: You can’t really ask for much more from your postseason debut, than a 40-0 win – Bournemouth have made it clear that even though they can’t see D1 football next season, they’re ready to prove they were more than capable of it should the BUCS system work different in Division Two!

Season High:

Essex: The Blades have been a cut above the rest of their conference this year, though their Week Right shutout of the Pythons does stand out as the point where it become obvious that they wouldn’t be caught by any rivals in the 2A South East.

Bournemouth: The Bobcats generally had a good all round season… Perhaps the biggest standout was putting in their best offensive performance of the year so far in their final regular season fixture – bouncing back from a poor offensive performance against the Royals with 36 points against the Redhawks.

Season Low:

Essex: Tough to pick flaws in a perfect 6-0 season… Though the 14 points they allowed to ARU in Week Ten was uncharacteristically sloppy for a team that were coming into that game having only allowed a single score!

Bournemouth: With a chance to seal the deal on Division One Football with a win in Week Ten, the Bobcats offence coughed up a hairball – a lone safety their only score of the crucial clash with the Royals.

When last they met…

Though Bournemouth have done a little bit of conference-hopping since joining the league in 14/15, this will be their first battle with the Blades as far as I can see.

—–

Essex have flown the flag proudly for the South East conference this postseason… can they carry that banner, and their #1 seeding, all the way to southern final?

Who wins?

Click or tap the spoiler tab below to reveal our BUCS office picks, as well as the results of the Britball Nation Pick’em poll!

Spoiler
BUCS Office:

Pick’Em Poll:

Our first disagreement of the week, just about, as we see the pundits pick in favour of the visiting Bobcats, while the community poll goes in favour of the Essex Blades…. quite literally by one vote, 146 vs 145  (Apparently one pollster didn’t complete the full survey).

Will it be the correspondents or community (well, 50.17% of them) that are proven right at the weekend?

 

 

Worcester Royals (2) vs Royal Holloway Bears (3)

A Royal Rumble!

It’s our first meeting… wow, our first meeting of this entire postseason so far, between two conference champions!

Of course… it doesn’t help that there’s only a handful of crown-wearing teams left as this postseason has boasted the biggest upsets we can remember in quite some time!

Record
 7-0-0 6-1-0
Offence
 31.00
(2nd)
16.40
(15th)
 Defence
10.50
(16th)
 9.00
(14th)
Previous Round

Worcester: The Royals put up a comfortable win against the Phoenix, 26-6 – though we might have wanted some bigger numbers from their offence perhaps?

Royal Holloway: Though they lead throughout the fixture, the Bears made things a bit stressful when they allowed the Cambridge Pythons back into their Quarter-Finals meeting in the second half. Still, their defence showed its steel, and they came away with a 22-16 win over the South East runners-up.

Season High:

Worcester: The key to Worcester’s success this year has largely been their offence – consistently finding ways to put up points against all comers and earning them the #2 most productive offence in the tier. However, it would be the Royals’ defence that ultimately clinched them a crown as they utterly shutdown the Bobcats offence in Week Ten.

Royal Holloway: With three of their four on-field wins coming by a score or less, the Bears’ 34-6 win over the Wolfpack in Week Eight must have been positively relaxing for their players and coaches by comparison!

Season Low:

Worcester: It’s tough to spot a low in a perfect season so far… but we suspect their overtime win against ‘Cuda may’ve caused a couple of coaches to have stress-induced stomach ulcers…

Royal Holloway: A Week Five loss to the Regents where they Bears offence failed to put up any points left Royal Holloway off the pace through much of the winter – always seeming a win behind the rest of the pack as they tried to recoup weather-postponed fixtures!

When last they met…

Given that they’ve never shared a conference and this is the Royals’ first season in the playoffs I’m fairly convinced these two teams have not met on the field of play previously – happy to be proven wrong though!

—–

These two teams are two of only six conference champions left standing heading into this third week of the postseason… Whose crown will still be shining when the dust settles on Sunday?

Who wins?

Click or tap the spoiler tab below to reveal our BUCS office picks, as well as the results of the Britball Nation Pick’em poll!

Spoiler
BUCS Office:

Pick’Em Poll:

It’s notable that in our only clash of champions this weekend we see the most skewed polling – Worcester seen as heavy favourites in both the DC and Britball Nation polls!

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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