BUCS | Division Two Semi Final Predictions

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?

Spoiler

Close but no cigar as our 1A Midlands Correspondent goes against the crowd and picks the underdog MudDogs!

Still, it’s likely to take one helluva performance from the welsh uni team to slow down a Jets offence that has appeared unstoppable so far this season. While the MudDogs have some experience facing powerhouse offences, having held Manchester to only 28 points earlier in the season, it’s going to be a big ask for them to match the pace of the Jets, whose athletic ability allows them to score in all phases of the game.

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:

Spoiler

This one’s a close call, but the Tyrants edge it by a single pick. 6-4.

While their scoreline against Edinburgh may not’ve turned many heads, in truth it still outshines the Raiders own regular season showing against the stoic Scots side, a narrow 8-2 win back in Week Three.

With two teams used to having their own way, this should be one helluva showdown. Given each sides offensive prowess, you might be expecting a shootout… but in truth we wouldn’t be surprised to see a much more conservative affair, with the defences instead coming to the fore and the winner taking it by a single score.

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.

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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?

Spoiler

You could say that!

The convincing nature of their 70 points of offence in a matter of days has clearly turned the team in the direction of the Regents, as they take a 8-2 advantage in the picks despite having lost to the #1 seeded Panthers in the regular season!

Perhaps it was the Tweet blowing JJ a kiss that has swayed the team so heavily?

Either way, even with the Regents coming into the game with an avalanche of momentum at their backs, don’t go expecting another big blowout in this one.

The Panthers have proven resilient all season long, so expect a couple of scores a piece from these two teams, and it could be something as small as successful PATs that’s potentially the difference maker here!

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?

Spoiler

It seems the team simply aren’t too sure! Split cleanly down the middle, it IS notable that our two correspondents most familiar with the region have both opted for the Panthers, regardless of the Oxford side’s regular-season loss to the Stags.

At 5-5, the responsibility to tie-break falls to me, and in truth my preference was to stick with the Stags as South West champs and victor of the last meeting between these two…

However, I’ll trust that our closest correspondents have some extra insights that I don’t, and pick the Panthers to edge this one in a close-run crunch match where the first to three scores takes it.

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Nick

Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1