The northern half of Division One, home to the team that has sat at the top of the Division One Power Rankings ALL SEASON LONG.
Is it finally time for the University of Nottingham to be dethroned?
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 Leeds Beckett Carnegie (#5)
Nottingham made short work of their conference rivals, the LJMU Fury last weekend – though it’s of note that the #1 Seed’s defence has has a couple of poor weeks in a row now – surrendering 58 points in their last two outings, compared to 12 in the preceding seven regular season fixtures.
Will this be something that Carnegie, who already dispatched one 1A Midlands contender in a convincing fashion last weekend, will be able to take advantage of?
Certainly the Carnegie offence has gotten hot at the perfect time, with all-round playmaker and offensive weapon, Chris Winrow, finding paydirt three times in back to back fixtures. The Leeds side have a simple offence, but they bullied the Wolves through the first half last weekend and will look to do the same against the finesse of Nottingham.
However, Carnegie have a small roster, and it’ll be a big ask for them to match both the depth and quality that Nottingham can bring to bear. Can the Yorkshiremen hold their own against the midland’s Scholar Dollars?
Sheffield Hallam Warriors (#2) vs Hull Sharks (#3)
Two teams whose dominant seasons were tarnished by surprise losses, ruining their chances of perfect conference-crown seasons.
On paper, we’re looking at two fairly similar outfits – experienced teams built around effective offences, headed up by experienced play-callers under centre.
It’s a (very) poor man’s Brady vs Peyton as Sam Foulds and Dutch Stephenson square off in this semi-final – and last weekend’s quarters give us little information to work with, as each team ended up playing against conference rivals once again.
Perhaps the biggest thing to note was the Warriors’ second half domination of a team that appeared to have their number in the regular season – as they overcame an early two-score deficit against the Rams to runaway with a 27-18 victory. Have the Warriors gotten hot at the perfect time?
There we have it ‘Nation – but who are YOUR picks to make it through the semi-finals in the northern half of Division One?