BUCS 18/19 Playoff Picks: Premiership Semi-Finals

Semi-Finals weekend is upon us… and boy has it been a winding road to get here! Tell me you thought it’d be these four teams competing for a spot in the Championship final before this season started! 

Four teams, none of which managed an undefeated season, clash this Sunday with, for at least half the outfits, the possibility of a shot at a first-ever National Championship on the line… Who’ll be heading to Loughborough later this month?

 

UWE Bullets (S1) vs Leeds Beckett Carnegie (N2)

Record
 6-2-0  5-3-0
Offence
 26.50
(1st)
 24.63
(4th)
 Defence
 16.75
(5th)
 15.75
(4th)
Previous Round

UWE: The Bullets are on target for the team’s second-ever National Championship appearance – having previously won the title in their combined-institution form, the Bristol Bullets, back in 2006/7.  They’ve earned their spot as the top-remaining seed courtesy of a nail-biting 6-0 win over the visiting Stirling Clansmen – the Bullets managed just a single score against the Northern outfit, but luckily that was enough to book a semi-finals appearance. Even so, they’ll be hoping for a more convincing showing in this second postseason clash – something more in line with their status as the #1 offence in the Premiership

Leeds Beckett: Carnegie took a relatively comfortable win over the Lions in the first round of the postseason – though their offence wasn’t exactly setting the scoreboard alight, their defence completely shut down a Lions attack that had been building momentum heading into the playoffs. They’ll be feeling a little sour that the BUCS brackets in the top tier have meant that, even though they’re the second-best team remaining in the postseason, they’ll hit the road this Sunday.

Season High:

UWE: They’ve had a pretty good season across the board – their narrow loss to the Lions in Week One immediately drew the eye, and when they followed it up with a win over the ‘Canes it was clear the Bullets weren’t in the prem just to make up the numbers. It bodes well for Bristol that they’ve definitely played their best football when at home – their 32-6 win over the Titans in Week Eleven pretty much secured a Southern title in their first top tier season.

Leeds Beckett: Leeds certainly got their campaign off to a great start when they turned heads with a fifty-burger to open the season – stomping a 50-28 win on the Stirling Clansmen in Week One.

Season Low:

UWE: The Bullets mentioned they’d probably pull starters going into their final fixture of the season… however, another little birdy told us even their star scholars remained on the field through at least three quarters against the Titans in Week Twelve, and if that’s the case their 48-6 loss to the Titans is far more concerning than was first apparent.

Leeds Beckett: Leeds come into the playoffs having lost two of their last three outings – and indeed the win sandwiched between those two Ls was perhaps the most concerning – a narrow 13-15 win over a Derby Braves side they dominated earlier in the season.

When Last They Met…

Umm… Answers on a postcard?

—–

The two highest remaining seeds meet – and notably not in the final! UWE were the only southern side to be favourites in the first round – can they continue to see the community’s favour considering their narrow win a fortnight ago?

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 BUCS office can’t make their minds up, and it looks like the Britball Nation barely can either!

The UWE Bullets edge the poll by a slim margin, 53:47, and are narrow favourites to advance to Loughborough… but boy should this game be an absolutely fantastic fixture!

 

Swansea Titans (S2) vs Hertfordshire Hurricanes (S4)

Two teams that were underdogs going into the first round, both pulled off some pretty memorable moments to earn themselves a second postseason fixture! These two teams split their games during the regular season, but there’s a lot more at stake than just the series between them when they clash on Sunday… For Swansea it’s a shot at a first ever National Championship appearance, while the Hurricanes chase a potential sixth title!

Record
 5-3-0 3-4-0
Offence
 21.75
(5th)
21.14
(6th)
 Defence
 21.75
(5th)
20.58
(7th)
Previous Round

Swansea: The Titans survived TWO last-second field goal attempts to defeat the defending National Champions, Durham, in an incredible back and forth quarter-final fixture.

The teams traded blows throughout four quarters and it looked like the Saints prayers would be answered when they drove into field goal range with only a second remaining…

The first attempt hit the crossbar, but a flag gave them a second, only to see it go wide left and the Swansea sideline erupt!

Hertfordshire: 3%.

That’s the proportion of the 300+ votes in the first round of playoff picks that thought Herts were going to take a win away from the previously undefeated University of Nottingham in the Quarter Finals.

The only people that didn’t seem to doubt the ‘Canes were their roster and coaches it seems, as they kept the Prem North champs in reach throughout the fixture, before putting together a simply stellar drive to close out the game – driving the length of the field to score in the final seconds of the fixture, and rather than kicking for overtime, rolling the dice and punching in a 2PAT for the win!

Season High:

Swansea: Going into the break undefeated has got to be a pretty good feeling? And beating Birmingham in front of the big xpLosION crowds has got to count as a high point, too… However, we suspect this week the Titans’ locker room will be feeling particularly positive courtesy of their regular-season-closing bullying of the Bullets!

Having been shot down by UWE just a week prior, the Titans put in their best offensive performance of the year at the perfect time – sealing the deal on home football for round one with a 48-6 win over UWE.

Hertfordshire: The Hurricanes might have had a shaky start to their season with two losses, but they bounced back strong in Week Five with a whopping 35-0 win over long-time rivals, the Lions! The Hurricanes’ offence seemed to be firing on all cylinders going into the Christmas break.

Season Low:

Swansea: Riding high from an undefeated first half of their season, in Week Ten the Titans played hosts to a Birmingham Lions side that had suffered a three-game skid. Heavily favoured to take the win, an unfortunate injury to playmaking QB Sam Huxtable in the second half suddenly took the win out of the Titans sails – and it looks like it’s taken them quite some time to figure out how to bounce back.

Hertfordshire: Though Hertfordshire’s season-high came against Birmingham, you’d probably have to pick their season-closing loss to the Lions as their low point – taking a heavy loss to a team you bested comfortably earlier in the season is a tough pill to swallow right ahead of the playoffs.  This, combined with a voided fixture versus the Destroyers means the Hurricanes close out the regular season with a losing record for the first time in… something like 23 years?

When last they met…

Premiership South rivals, these two teams have met twice this season already.

Swansea took the first meeting back in Week One 36-26, but Herts would take the second leg in a 7-6 midweek squeaker in Week Twelve. Still, Swansea bounced back the Wednesday night loss with a huge win against the Bullets to wrap up their regular season campaign.

—–

Both teams might have needed minor miracles to get themselves into this semi-final, but it reflects the self-belief of both these rosters that each will get a chance compete for a championship-appearance 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:

Though the two teams traded wins during the regular season, it was the Titans who took the more convincing victory, 36-26, to open the season, compared to Herts’ 7-6 win in Week Twelve.

Perhaps that’s why the community have given the Titans a narrow 56:44 advantage in the polls – though our BUCS office are far more convinced that this is the Titans’ game to lose!

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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