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.)
Portsmouth Destroyers (#1) vs Reading (#8)
The Destroyers boast the longest win streak in Uniball, having suffered their last loss way back in 2015! Many teams struggle to make the leap up between tiers, but not so for the Destroyers, who despite entering what was expected to be one of the most hotly contested conferences in the tier (realigned to feature two 15/16 Division One Conference Champs), have found ways to win.
By an inch or a mile is the old adage, and that’s certainly held true for the Destroyers who have taken five of their eight victories by a score or less!
This includes one of two match ups this season against their upcoming opponents, the Knights, with the Destroyer’s Week Nine win coming by 6 points following the Knights taking a surprise early lead.
Speaking of surprises, and few would have expected to see the Reading Knights in playoff football this year. They notched up only two wins in 15/16 and entered the Christmas break with only a single lacklustre win over a washed out looking Brighton side in Week Two.
However, they came out of the break looking like a different side. While they weren’t able to get things immediately back on track – with two narrow losses to the top teams in the conference – the Knights kept their eyes on the prize, and heading into the final week of the season knew precisely what they needed to achieve to give themselves a shot at the postseason. Despite going 3-5, the UWE Bullet’s forfeiture vs Oxford has given the Knights a route into the postseason, and we’d expect the Reading side to make the most of it!
Cardiff Cobras (#2) vs Cambridge Pythons (#7)
Two teams that ended their seasons on rather bum notes.
For the Cobras, while they’d already secured their conference crown, they won’t have been happy to see a perfect season slip away from them with a final-day loss to an upstart UWE side that ran the table post-Christmas.
Meanwhile, Cambridge appeared to have the South East all locked up with time to spare, before a much-improved Immortals side turned a 6-0 loss to a 46-0 win in the space of a fortnight!
The Pythons came out of the break to five straight back-to-back fixtures, and it’s likely to have taken a toll on them – as will seeing themselves drop from first to third in the conference with their narrow 2pt loss to close out the regular season vs Kent. With three 6-2 teams top out the South East, it’ll be interesting to see if the Pythons use their misfortune as motivation heading into this snake-off!
Imperial Immortals (#3) vs Exeter Demons (#6)
Whoa?! Where did that come from?
Following a winless fall from the Premiership in 15/16, at first it looked like the Immortals might have taken too many heavy losses in the top tier to refind winning ways despite the drop to the middle tier.
They opened the year with an overtime loss to Kent, but as the season went on appeared to find their feet. They followed a narrow 6-0 loss to Cambridge in Week Eight with a 46-0 rollicking only two weeks later, and completed their turnaround with a 8pt margin win over Kent in the intervening week.
Their final fixture was a bit of a false start as the game had to be called into the second quarter due to a RHUL player going down, but ahead of this the Immortals looked prepped to hit the postseason on a hot streak!
Meanwhile, Exeter will be frustrated by a season where injuries likely cost them their best shot at a conference title in many-a-year. Throughout the middle of the season a depleted backfield saw the Demons struggle to finish out games, following a close Week One loss to the Cobras with a second caught-from-behind loss to the Cardiff side in Week Nine, before being upset by a boisterous Bullets team in Week Ten.
Even so, they finished the regular season out on a high with two dominant shutout victories over Solent and Oxford so appear to be entering the postseason hot and healthy…
Surrey Stingers (#4) vs Kent Falcons (#5)
Two second place finishers go head to head in a rematch of last year’s quarter final that saw the Falcons head to Surrey, only to be sent packing with a 27 to zip thumping.
The Stingers were a strong contender for a second-straight conference crown this season, but couldn’t find ways through or around the Pompey defence when it mattered, and lost out in each of these fixtures by a score or less.
Not that all of their own victories were exactly convincing this season either – the 1A South was an incredibly tightly contested conference this season!
Kent meanwhile were frustrated by a lack of pre-Christmas fixtures that saw them scrambling to complete their schedule ahead of the postseason. This led to a double-header arrangement with RHUL that very nearly cost the Falcons their #2 spot in the conference as BUCS regulations are worryingly inconsistent with regards to double header fixtures – having two separate entries in the Regs book, with two separate sets of requirements!
Even, the game(s) stood, and a final minutes, final day victory over the conference-leading Cambridge Pythons saw Kent swipe the #2 spot in the conference.
There we have it ‘Nation – but who are YOUR picks to make it through the first round of playoffs in the southern half of Division One?