And then there were eight…
Yes, despite the slight delay due to the weather, the largest tier in Uniball is now reduced down to just the cream of the crop on each side of the north/south divide.
In the North, our top four seeds all emerged unscathed from the quarterfinals, while in the South the Regents upset the odds and ousted QMBL from the postseason to earn themselves a rematch with a familiar conference rival…
It remains top seeds versus bottom going into this slate of games, so let’s see who our BUCS office opted for in each of the Division Two fixtures!
Coventry Jets (1) v Bangor MudDogs (4)
Two teams come into this fixture with very different tales to tell from their previous playoff experience.
While the Jets flew right past their first postseason opponent in a 54-19 rampage over the Raptors, the MudDogs meanwhile required some final-minutes heroics to edge past the Huddersfield Hawks.
This bodes particularly poorly for the welsh side, as the Hawks were conference rivals to the Jets during the regular season… and did not fare well in their fixture vs the 2A Midlands champs, losing out 42-0 back in Week Four.
Sure, the Hawks had hit a hot streak following that fixture, and Bangor likely took on the Hawks at their hottest point in the season, but even so it still feels like this postseason showdown has the potential to be something of a mismatch.
The MudDogs have developed themselves into a small but solid outfit… but opposing them is a team that hasn’t lost a fixture since February 2016, including storming all the way to the Div 2 North Conference Cup title last season. The Jets boast exceptional athletes and incredible momentum coming into this matchup…
They took 9/10 nods for their last outing against Liverpool… will we see a perfect 10 picks from the team as they brawl with Bangor?
Manchester Tyrants (2) v Newcastle Raiders (3)
A clash of champions, as the 2A Borders and 2A North winners go head to head – the fact they both wear crowns just one of a number of uncanny similarities between these two sides.
Both teams fell from grace in 16/17, dropped from Div One only to bounce right back up again with dominant campaigns in their respective 2017/18 regular seasons. With 7-0 records and incredibly lopsided statistics – massive offensive output, paired with some of the stingiest Ds in the league.
However, where the two sides finally differ somewhat is their experiences in their last outing.
While the Raiders romped to a 42 to zip win in only two quarters versus Teesside, it looks like it was a tougher tussle for the Tyrants, who put up their most modest victory to date with a 15-0 win over the Predators.
Might Manchester be losing momentum right when it matters the most? Let’s see what the team thinks:
Brighton Panthers (1) v KCL Regents (6)
The Regents come into this fixture as the only underdog to upset the seeings last weekend – a very convincing 40-12 victory over the Vipers, which they swiftly followed up with a 30-6 midweek Varsity victory over UCL.
Certainly the Regents are on a helluva roll, putting up more points since hitting the postseason than they actually managed through their entire regular season… But likely carrying a few bumps and bruises from two games in such a short space of time, will the Regents be able to keep their momentum rolling as they showdown against a familiar opponent. 2A undefeated South Conference Champs, the Brighton Panthers.
Yes, Brighton have barely blinked all season long, and have already secured their immediate bounce back up to the middle tier with an undefeated regular season, including a shutout victory over the Regents back in Week Five.
While their offence has hardly been setting the scoreboard on fire this year, they near-doubled the output of any of their conference rivals and conceded a mere 14 points through five fixtures on the field.
They continued that strong defensive form in their postseason performance last weekend, a shutout 14-0 win over the Bears…
So when a gotten-hot Regents offence meets with stonecold Panthers D, what result are the BUCS office expecting?
The 1A South’s JJ Segarty lone-wolfed for the Regents last weekend… assuming he’s sticking with the Regents, will the Regents’ big win have bought them a few more picks this time around?
Southampton Stags (2) vs OBU Panthers (4)
Two familiar conference rivals showdown for a second time this season – can the Panthers get revenge for the regular-season loss that cost them their shot at promotion? Or will the undefeated Stags stampede onwards into the Southern Conference Cup Final?
Both teams took convincing wins away from their quarterfinal matchups, though the Essex Blades at least offered a bit of biteback to the Stags in their 35-15 game, compared to OBU’s 39-0 steamroll over the Phoenix.
Certainly, the big offensive performances from each side in their postseason openers show the relative strength of the South West conference and mean both teams come into this rematch feeling good about their ability to put up points… but with just three weeks since the two sides last played, have the Panthers figured out how to overcome the 10pt margin that split the two sides in Week Twelve?