Playoffs are upon us, and with the postseason getting underway we shift the format of our predictions to consult our entire Uniball team on who they think will be progressing to the second round!
No points party in the middle tier – these are fully-fledged where teams are battling for a prestigious place in the premiership! (Oh, and points too.)
University of Nottingham (#1) vs LJMU Fury (#8)
Buoyed by a much-improved relationship with their students union that’s allowed the team to bring in some sports scholarship talents, the former-outlaws have reached new heights this season. They went unbeaten, and until the final fixture of the season (or the first half of it at least) largely unchallenged.
This includes dispatching the newly promoted LJMU Fury handily twice already this year. Can the Fury, who seemed sat in a limbo between the top two teams in the conference (Notts/Warwick) and the bottom pair (Staffs/Worcester) really hope for it to be third time lucky this weekend?
Sheffield Hallam Warriors (#2) vs UCLan Rams (#7)
Talk about a grudge match! These two conference rivals split their games during the regular season with each likely feeling a little bit robbed by the results!
For Hallam, the Week Ten loss tarnished a perfect season, whereas the Rams felt robbed of win back in Week Three when Hallam’s game-clinching touchdown looked decidedly un-catch-like from the Ram’s sideline (as well as in photos and footage).
The Rams seemed to have found the key to shutting down a Warriors offence that otherwise ran roughshod over the rest of the conference… Sadly the same couldn’t be said for UCLan when they took on Carnegie to close out the regular season and potentially seal up the #2 spot in the conference.
The Leeds side bullied the Lancastrians and it’ll be interesting to see if they managed to bounce back from a grim end to their season.
Hull Sharks (#3) vs Glasgow Tigers (#6)
It’s one of the idiosyncrasies of our scheduling systems that, due to a lack of inter-conference fixtures during the regular season, teams will often find themselves squared up against conference rivals come the postseason. It stands to reason that if you’ve had a particularly strong season and earned a top seed, it’s at the cost of others within your conference, who’ll be left with lower seedings.
As such, we’ve got a third straight match up of conference rivals, and while it can lead to some nice grudge matches – for example Hallam and UCLan going head to head after splitting wins in the regular season – so too can it lead to some rather predictable fixtures – such as, we suspect, the Notts/LJMU match up above.
So which will this third in-conference match-up be?
Warwick Wolves (#4) vs Leeds Carnegie (#5)
Oooh! Finally! A pair of teams who aren’t already overly familiar with one another!
This game holds a special place in the spot where DC’s heart isn’t, owing to two of our writers having direct involvement in the fixture!
Both teams had good seasons, with their only losses coming against the eventual champs of their respective conferences.
For Carnegie in particular, they appear to be getting hot at just the right moment as they rounded off their regular season with a huge win over UCLan, that secured second place in the 1A North Western. This is despite their small roster size, and carrying a fair number of walking wounded.
It’ll be Carnegie’s ground and pound against Warwick’s more balanced attack, with the battle won and lost in the trenches – can Carnegie’s lineman stay healthy through the full fixture?
There we have it ‘Nation – but who are YOUR picks to make it through the first round of playoffs in the northern half of Division One?