BUCS 18/19 Playoff Picks: Division Two

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

Fair enough there’s only pride and a handful of BUCS points on the line in these ones, but don’t go expecting any of these programmes to pass up the opportunity notch up some postseason Ws!

What do you think of the new postseason preview format?

The North

Leeds Gryphons (1) vs Heriot-Watt Wolverines (8)

Just look at the numbers below, and you can see why the Gryphons spent the vast majority of the past season in the #1 spot in our Power Rankings. As such, having only sealed the deal on a second-ever stint of playoff balling in the closing weeks of the season, the Wolverines likely have their work cut out for them this weekend!

Record
 6-0-0  4-2-0
Offence
 43.6
(1st)
16.33
(17th)
 Defence
 1.20
(1st)
 10.83
(17th)
Previous Playoff Experience

Leeds: Leeds dropped down from Division One during the offseason as they continue to yo-yo between the middle and bottom tiers. Their last playoff appearance saw them reach the D2 Northern Final in 16/17.

Heriot-Watt: Heriot-Watt also saw their sole postseason football so far in the 16/17 season… rather coincidentally against the Leeds Gryphons! Though they might not look back too fondly only their 41-16 loss…

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.

Heriot-Watt: They certainly had bigger wins this year, but none meant more to the Wolverines than their 7-6 victory over the Centurions to close out their regular season – the single point win gave them their second taste of postseason football!

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?

Heriot-Watt: They had a strong start to their campaign, and a clutch finish too, but the Wolverines wavered in the middle of their season with a hefty loss to local rivals, Edinburgh, swiftly followed by a disappointing single-score defeat to the Spartans.

—–

I think I can guess which way these polls are going to swing…

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:

Summary

 

 

Liverpool Raptors (4) vs MMU Eagles (5)

Two teams that could easily wear crowns in a different conference, or a different year… now playing for pride and a handful of BUCS points – but don’t expect either to let their foot off the gas!

Record
 5-1-0  5-1-0
Offence
 29.33
(5th)
19.17
(11th)
 Defence
 4.5
(3rd)
7.83
(12th)
Previous Playoff Experience

Liverpool:  The Raptors had a nice season in 17/18, earning postseason action. Unfortunately for them, they got shot out of the skies by a Coventry Jets side on the rise.

MMU:  Best as I can tell this is the Eagles first postseason action in quite some time… possibly ever? Kudos MMU… But perhaps makes it all the more painful to miss out on promotion so narrowly.

Season High:

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.

MMU:  Did MMU peak too soon? Certainly their Week Three season-opening win over the Stallions set them up as the frontrunners in the 2A Midlands for much of the year and showed an impressive resilience on defence considering the scorelines Staffordshire would go on to put up on subsequent opponents!

Season Low:

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

MMU: This one’s frustratingly simple – a single point loss to the at the time relatively un-noticed DMU Falcons in Week Eight would come back to haunt the Eagles – costing them their chance at D1 football when the Falcons rounded out their campaign with a matching 5-1 record and a crucial head-to-head advantage.

—–

The mobility between the different tiers can prove frustrating for some programmes – a single game, or in the case of the Eagles, a single point – can be the difference between promotion and another year of bottom tier balling… Still, what better way to take out your frustrations than two teams from rival cities going toe-to-toe?

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:

A split decision from our staffers, though the community have no such qualms – Liverpool take 76% of the poll and look set to advance into the next round of playoffs!

 

 

Edinburgh Predators (2) vs Staffordshire Stallions (7)

Not gonna lie, I have a bone to pick with both these teams! I talked each of them up for much of the season, only for it to come back and bite me in the tushy when they each closed out their campaigns with losses!

Still, both teams knew their respective fates going into their games – Preds are promotion-bound, and the Stallions couldn’t swipe a crown even with a win – so now, with more on the line, which teams ready to step up to the plate?

Record
 5-1-0  4-2-0
Offence
 19.80
(10th)
29.5
(4th)
 Defence
 3.8
(2nd)
 6.33
(6th)
Previous Playoff Experience

Edinburgh: Edinburgh narrowly missed out on promotion last season, but at least got a brief taste of playoffs when they took on Manchester in the first round.

Staffordshire: Having spent the last three season fighting for survival in the 1A Midlands, Staffs haven’t seen postseason football in quite some time – expect them to leap at the chance to extend their season further having been used to eight-game campaigns in the middle tier.

Season High:

Edinburgh: The Preds kicked off the year with a nice win over the Spartans, but perhaps the Week Five win over local rivals, Heriot Watt was more meaningful. Still, the 0-10 win over York sealed the deal on promotion, and the knowledge that next year they’ll get a chance to clash with cross-city rivals, the Knights, once again.

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:

Edinburgh: Sure, they knew they were promoted already… But the Preds can’t claim they didn’t make a booboo in losing out to Teesside in Week Ten. Edinburgh were on track for the #1 seeding throughout the playoffs, and now risk a road trip should they make it all the way to the finals.

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.

—–

One of the most effective offences in the tier takes on the number two defence. This should be a corker.

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 never easy to take a long trip north of the wall, and though the Predators finished off their campaign on a bum note they’ll come into this game well rested and with the home crowd at their backs.

They take 6/8 of the pundits’ picks and 69% of the public poll.

 

 

DMU Falcons (3) vs Sunderland Spartans (6)

Credit where it’s due – neither of these teams were really on our radars for most of this season, and all of a sudden they’re playing postseason football!

DMU may not have many flashy numbers, but they found a way to get it done this year with consistent performances across the breadth of their season, while the Spartans recovered from a rough start to their winter with four-straight Ws to move into a playoff berth!

Record
 5-1-0  4-1-0
Offence
 17.17
(14th)
21.20
(7th)
 Defence
 9.50
(15th)
 8.4
(13th)
Previous Playoff Experience

DMU: DMU certainly haven’t seen playoff balling in the BUCS era, making this year’s run all the more impressive.

Sunderland: Sunderland spent the last three seasons battling in the hotly contested 1A North, ahead of relegation last year. This’ll be their first postseason action in quite some time.

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.

Sunderland: Sunderland wrapped up the year with their biggest win of the season when they needed it the most – cruising to a 0-38 win over the Cougars.

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.

Sunderland: Despite coming into the season with a lot of positivity, the Spartans got a rather rude welcome to life in Division Two with a hefty loss to the Predators to kick off their time in the tier. Still, they clearly bounced back all the stronger for it.

—–

Purely by the numbers you’d have to say the higher seed might actually be the underdog here… But we’ve made the mistake of underestimating the Falcons before…

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:

Eager to ensure they don’t make the same mistake two weeks in a row, the BUCS writers narrowly pick in favour of the Falcons, and the community follow suit more convincingly with a 69% vote in favour of the 2A Midlands champs.

 

 

The South

Essex Blades (1) vs Sussex Saxons (8)

Into the southern half of the fixtures, and… well, while there might have been a few missteps along the way, once the scores and awarded wins were all decided, we eventually got a clear picture of who’s where in the southern half of the D2 postseason!

While Essex locked up the #1 seed in the south in Week Ten, for Sussex it was a stressful wait until Tuesday evening to know they were playoff-bound – you can be sure having felt like they nearly missed out on postseason action altogether, they’ll be making the most of it!

Record
 6-0-0  5-2-0
Offence
 30.33
(3rd)
15.33
(21st)
 Defence
 4.67
(4th)
7.00
(8th)
Previous Playoff Experience

Essex: Essex made it to the playoffs last year, though they didn’t make it past the first round. Still, they clearly built on their strong 2017/18 campaign, and turned it into an undefeated 18/19 season.

Sussex: Sussex last saw postseason football in the middle tier, making it to the first round of the 15/16 postseason. Since then they’ve struggled to repeat their strong form, relegated to Division Two at the end of last year. Even so, a score here or there this season and the Saxonds might have easily bounced right back up into middle tier football.

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.

Sussex: For a team that spent most of their season up to that point winning and losing games by a score or so, that fifty burger versus the City Wolfpack must’ve tasted gooooood.

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!

Sussex: The Saxons were shutout just the once this season – but it was a pretty darn crucial time to come up empty – their loss to the Emperors effectively took the Saxons out of the race for promotion with nearly half their season still ahead of them. That said, I suspect this past Tuesday madly talking to their Athletic Union about why they weren’t initially appearing in the BUCS postseason seedings might’ve been even more stressful, for the committee in particular.

—–

Essex have nice numbers, but there will be many that say they’re coming out of the softest conference and have a lot to prove. Sussex meanwhile? Well we can’t say they didn’t have to fight for their postseason action! We came very close to a four or five-way tie for the top of the 2A South!

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:

Up until this point in the year, it’s ultimately impossible to gauge the relative strength between one regional grouping and another… As such, it looks like both our team, and the Britball Nation itself, are leaning heavily in favour of the home side!

 

 

Bournemouth Bobcats (4) vs UCL Emperors (5)

Both these teams came oh-so-close to crowns this year – the Bobcats just a narrow loss to the Royals away from swiping the South West title, while the Emperors actually spent most of Tuesday looking like they might yet claim the 2A South honours!

As is, both teams instead wrap up their strongest campaigns to date just shy of promotion, but both eager to continue extending their seasons by as much as they can!

Record
 6-1-0  5-2-0
Offence
 20.00
(9th)
14.67
(24th)
 Defence
6.4
(7th)
 7.67
(11th)
Previous Playoff Experience

Bournemouth: Pretty sure this is the Bobcats first ever postseason appearance. They’ve been plugging the ‘New Era’ slogan hard this winter, and it certainly seems like they’ve started something special this season.

UCL: The Emperors actually saw playoff football in their first ever season, making it all the way to the Southern Semi-finals before suffering a bruising loss to the D1-bound Brunel Burners.

Season High:

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.

UCL: This one’s easy – UCL’s Week Twelve win very nearly secured them the conference title had Royal Holloway not been successfully awarded a win over the Spitfires. The Emperors leapt out to an early lead over the team that had topped their conference for much of the season, and never looked back!

Season Low:

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.

UCL: Their 14-18 Week Ten loss to Royal Holloway was definitely a tough one to bear, ultimately costing the Emperors the 2A South crown… But I suspect their double-overtime defeat to the Spitfires in their season opener may’ve had the broader impact on their season overall – leaving them constantly one-step behind the pack in the crowded race to the top of the 2A South.

—–

They both might only have pride and points to play for at this point, but both these teams are on a roll this season and I doubt they want the ride to stop just yet if they can avoid it.

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:

The Bobcats almost complete the set in the team votes, narrowly missing out on a unanimous vote. The Nation are less sure, however, as the 63:37 split is actually one of our more closely contested votes…

 

 

Worcester Royals (2) vs UEL Phoenix (7)

Go on. Tell me you expected to see these two teams playing one another in the playoffs coming into the 18/19 season!

Ha, tell me UEL would be playing playoff football just last week and I’d’ve been pretty sceptical – but the Phoenix found a way to get it done – wrapping up their campaign with a 3-3 record and sneaking into the 7th seed.

Can they really shake things up and call a close on the Royals’ most successful ever season?

Record
 7-0-0  3-3-0
Offence
 31.00
(2nd)
11.40
(28th)
 Defence
10.50
(16th)
 22.80
(33rd)
Previous Playoff Experience

Worcester: The Royals had only had one season with a winning-record coming into this campaign. They’ve come a long way since their humble beginnings as the beatstick of the MAC.

UEL: UEL were frontrunners for promotion out of the 2A South East for much of last season, before a dip in form saw them settle for a #5 seed going into the postseason instead. They traveled to a 2A South West outfit on that occasion, too… and it did not go well, losing out 39-0 to the OBU Panthers.

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.

UEL: Week Ten, and we won’t lie – we’d pretty much written off the Phoenix as also-rans at that point in the season. Three heavy losses, twice to the Blades and once to the Pythons, had left them looking well off the pace of the frontrunners… and then out of nowhere the Phoenix would pull off a 15-12 upset over Cambridge!  That narrow victory would prove more crucial than anyone might have expected, as it gave UEL a notch in the W column over a ‘top three’ team – a crucial tiebreaker in the BUCS postseason seedings that saw a 3-3 Phoenix outfit displace the 5-2 Barracuda from the playoffs!

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…

UEL: There’s not many teams that suffer a 42-0 loss in Week Four and go on to play in the postseason. Kudos?

—–

We didn’t see this one coming, but I’m certainly both teams are gonna enjoy it nonetheless!

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:

Considering the disparity in the numbers between these two teams it’s no surprise to see the Royals strongly favoured here.

 

 

Royal Holloway Bears (3) vs Cambridge Pythons (6)

Surprise Bear attack!

Sunday evening the Bears were sat on a 4-1 record and missing playoffs entirely… 48 hours later and they’re Division One-bound baby!

They’ve been one of the most consistent performers this season, outside a slip up against the Regents, and have battled against weather postponements all season-long were eventually rewarded for their efforts with two awarded wins to round out the year – leapfrogging all the other contenders to emerge as 2A South Champs!

They host a Pythons side that, truth be told, I’m not sure what to make of them this season…

Record
 6-1-0  3-3-0
Offence
16.40
(15th)
17.33
(13th)
 Defence
 9
(14th)
 11.50
(18th)
Previous Playoff Experience

Royal Holloway: The Bears snuck their way into the postseason last year, courtesy of a strong second half to their campaign. They came up short in a much-improved second performance against a promotion-bound Brighton.

Cambridge: You’ve only got to go back a couple of seasons, and the Pythons were mixing it up in the middle tier postseason. However, the following offseason hit the Cambridge side, hard, and they were relegated at the end of the 17/18 season.

Season High:

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!

Cambridge: To the Pythons credit they looked like they could be real contenders through the first half of the season, going into the break with a 2-1 record and comfortable wins over the Phoenix and Rhinos – their 0-35 win over ARU outmatching table-topping Essex’s own scoreline.

Season Low:

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!

Cambridge: Week Ten and we were already pretty much considering the Pythons as a playoff team. Then the Pythons got themselves burned by the Phoenix and suddenly were no longer in control of their own postseason fates!

—–

We had saw one team as pretty much in the playoffs too soon, and the other too late. Hey, you definitely can’t say 18/19 has been a predictable BUCS season!

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:

I’m kinda surprised by it, but the pundits split their picks evenly between the Bears and Pythons – perhaps not convinced by the Bears’ relatively narrow margin of victory over Greenwich in Week Twelve?

The community clearly have no such qualms – Royal Holloway take 68% of the vote and extend their season for at least another week!

 

Comments

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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