The western 1A season started with lots of intrigue; will Cardiff be able to overcome the amount of players lost during the offseason? How will Exeter respond after a few tough years in the shadow of others? Can Oxford make the leap from Division Two and compete against Div One competition? How will Solent match up following their move to the South West conference? And will UWE be able to reinvigorate themselves after not challenging for a conference crown for a couple seasons?
Well most of these questions have already been answered at the halfway point of the season. At the moment two teams seem to be challenging for the top spot in the conference while the other three teams battle it out for the leftover. However, all is not lost and there is plenty to play for in the second half of the year for all teams. Let’s start by taking a look at Cardiff.
The Cobras are sitting pretty right now with a 4-0 record and the top spot in the conference. They started off the season with possibly the biggest win of the campaign, even though nobody knew that at the time. The 14-12 win over Exeter in Week One turned out to be a great start as the Demons have since emerged as their main rivals for top spot. Over the next three games the Cobras turned in solid performances with two wins coming at the expense of Solent.
Even though they are currently undefeated, there are still some major hurdles the Cardiff side will need to overcome. The second clash between the Demons and Cobras takes place on Superbowl weekend and that one will be a must see! Right now the Cobras should feel pleased with their season so far, but they better not get too comfortable or they’ll be dragged down from their throne by an Exeter squad that appear to have improved game after game.
Speak of the Devil, let’s take a look at the Demons. They’re currently sitting in second place with a 3-1 record, and in prime position to make some noise down the stretch. The Demons have played every team in the conference so far with one loss coming at the hands of the Cobras after some fourth quarter heroics from the Welshmen. They had an extremely impressive performance against Solent in December with a 26-0 dismantling, the game that put Exeter back onto the radar as being a serious challenger for the conference crown. For the team to also win three straight fixtures away from home is a testament to the focus this group has.
Their next game, the Super Bowl weekend clash against the Cobras, will likely decide the conference. If they can win this game it will put them in a great spot. I wouldn’t be ready to crown anybody but as the Demons follow that fixture with three straight home games to finish the year, you’ve got to like their chances. Let’s see how they fair on 4 February – can the Demons tarnish the Cobras’ anniversary weekend celebrations?
Looking to the Lancers, and despite being past the midpoint of the season, are sitting here in January with a 1-1 record… and with actually only one game played on the field! You’ve got to feel bad for this team; these guys just want to play some football. Due to them not playing a whole lot during the first half of the season their schedule is rammed for the next five weeks, and they’ll now have to find room to re-schedule their game against Solent, having seen it postponed from rain week due to a frozen pitch.
It’s kinda crazy that a team can still be an unknown entity headed into week Eight of the season but this team is just that. The one game they played was an 19-8 loss to the Demons.
Even though all losses are bad in my book, because I hate losing, this one did at least show that they can hang with Division One opponents. They’ve got a tough run over the next few weeks with their next game coming against the Cobras, but right now perhaps we just need to hope the Lancers actually get to play some football at all during the second half of the season, bless their cottons!
Solent are sitting on a 1-3 record and have been a very up and down team. They have played the Cobras twice and lost twice but they have been relatively close games, whereas they got drubbed 26-0 by the Demons. What strength of team will we see in the second half of the year? Will their defence be able to start stopping opponents on a consistent basis?
Their offence has been playing well even though 45 of their points came in one game against the Bullets in Week One. I do think this team can bounce back and finish the season stronger in the second half of the year. They’ve got to play the Lancers twice, the Bullets and Demons, and while their three losses mean they may not be fighting for a Division Crown they can sure play spoiler if they can put together a top notch performance and beat the Demons in Week Eleven.
Finally, this Bullets team is not the type of dominant UWE side one we’re used to seeing. They have scored a grand total of 8 points so far this season and have been beaten badly in fixtures on the field so far. They’ve got four games to go and all four conference opponents to play, which means they’ve got a chance to regain some pride heading into the off-season at least.
They’ve got a lot of play for as well, as they’re current favourites to be heading down into Division Two next season if they can’t start putting in any good performances and getting some wins – a bitter pill to swallow for a team with College Bowl-winning pedigree.
Unfortunately I think it will be a struggle for this team through the next month of the season. We’ll see if any adjustments over the Christmas period make any difference but this team really is in a relegation battle at this point of the year.
So, with just about a month to go in the regular season we’re set up for a great run of games in this conference. Teams will be looking to spoil the Cobras run at an unbeaten season, and the biggest chance of that happening is only two weeks away against the Demons! That’s the match up that could shake up this race. Good luck to all the teams the rest of the way, let’s see some great football.