The final regular season week is upon us and it’s looking like a good’un! Conference champs may have been decided but there’s still a whole lot else to play for in the South this weekend!
That said, lets take a look at the fixtures that might wrap up some of the conferences in Week Ten!!
Southampton Stags v Chichester Spitfires
The Southampton Stags have made it into the playoffs but were unable to accomplish their goal of promotion this season, keeping them in the 2A-South. A promising team with a huge amount of potentialthey’ll likely come out this week using a large number of players from deep in the roster to build their game time and save on starter injuries.
With their hopes of a playoff spot now passed the Chichester Spitfires will look to use this game to salvage some pride and live up to the performances that saw them snag a shock win in this fixture last year, and come close to upsetting the Burners in Week One, while continuing to work towards building up ahead of next season.
The reality is the Spitfires came oh-so-close to a breakthrough season, losing three games by score or less. A few pick-sixes, broken plays, or open deep passes could have placed the team tied with the Stags this weekend for second in the conference and potentially have even placed a 1 in the Burners loss column!
Chichester might well want this one more, but we can’t see the stags wanting to head to playoffs without momentum.
Stags to win
KCL Regents v BNU Buccaneers
The KCL Regents and BNU Buccaneers are both out of the hunt for a playoff spot this season. Like the Spitfires, the Regents have come close in a couple of their fixtures, but an unfortunate walkover loss to the Stags to due pitch issues has kept KCL at the bottom of the table. They’ll want to win this game to avoid a completely winless year, and then look towards the future to rebuild and develop the team ready for next year.
Meanwhile, a far cry from the double wing wielding devils who terrorised the league with gigantic scorelines, the Buccaneers struggled to put points on the board this season, scoring in only three of their five games played so far. In the same position as many teams, BNU will want to use this game to learn and develop in time for next season and get some points on the board.
A win here will leave the Bucs on .500 for the season – a good motivational stepping point for next year.
BNU to win
Bristol Barracuda vs Gloucestershire Gladiators
So now we round out the last game of the conference and it’s a doozy.
Both teams are vying for postseason games (see our “If The Season Ended Today” article ).
Cuda squeaked past an improved Bournemouth team last week whereas Gloucestershire’s only blemish has been the loss to the Blitz… which admittedly cost them the conference title.
We expect a hard-nosed, physical game – but the crux of the match up is the Cuda D being able to stop the Gloucester O.
Both teams are going to lay it all out there and it’s a tough one to call…
Being the last game I’m going to buck the trend and go for the underdog. Cuda to edge it.
Canterbury Chargers v UEL Phoenix
It might not have been apparent at the time, but Canterbury actually won this conference WAAAAAY back in Week Eight – though strictly speaking it wasn’t until the Vipers took down the Phoenix that they were locked into their crown.
The only team in the conference to get the majority of their games played ahead of the midseason break, the loss of two sides from the 2A South East has led to the Chargers twiddling their thumbs for most of the new year thus far – will this have led to complacency, or a renewed vigour for their small roster?
They’re already crowned, but can wrap up their first undefeated season with a win this weekend… though this game is far from a match up to sleep on!
The Phoenix may have fallen at their eventual first hurdle, unable to keep pace with the Essex Blades after their season eventually kicked off in Week Eight, but they’ve been competitive in each of their fixtures so far this year and upset the pundits with a win over a gotten-hot ARU last weekend.
If the Chargers come in complacent, or look to save starters for the postseason? Don’t be surprised if the Phoenix make them regret doing so.
However, we expect the Canterbury side will be eager to get back into the swing of things ahead of the postseason and should have enough savvy to edge a win in this one.
Essex Blades v Greenwich Mariners
Many sides will finish their regular season this weekend disappointed with the performance they put together in the 16/17 season… But we doubt many can be more vexxed that the Greenwich Mariners who came into the season off the back of an undefeated campaign in 15/16, with aspirations of promotion and a deep dive into the postseason.
They’ll therefore be bitterly disappointed to not only have only managed to step out for a mere three fixtures so far this season (with a fourth this weekend), but they’ve failed to see victory in a single match up that’s actually taken place.
It’s unlikely however that the Blades will take pity on them – they came out of the Christmas break look like potential candidates for the number two team in the conference, only to see their dreams dashed these past two weekend and both ARU, and then the Vipers, dealt deathblows to the Blades playoff hopes.
Therefore, we’re expecting the Essex side to come into this weekend with a chip on their shoulder and a point to prove.
Greenwich never seemed to have left port so far this year – Essex to take it.
LSBU Spartans 0-1 QMBL Vipers