By Samuel Stoddart Durning
Hull Sharks v Edinburgh Napier Knights
Sharks must have smelled blood in the water this week after becoming contenders for Upset of the Year by toppling a seemingly unstoppable Glasgow Tigers in a 4th quarter battle which resulted in a 16-12 victory to the Sharks, ultimately throwing the conference into a turmoil and propelling themselves to the top of the table heading into the Xmas break.
Napier have settled well into Division One, sitting third in the conference going into this weekend but ranking second in both points scored and points conceded, showing a more balanced Napier side in comparison to past seasons where they would be heavily reliant on their stellar defence. Napier’s ground game has clearly come into full stride with three of their TD’s last week coming from three different running backs against Sunderland. A credit to their big boys in the trenches no doubt!
Hull have shocked the Britball nation with their upset win over conference favourites, Glasgow Tigers, and seemed have managed a complete turnaround on what originally looked like a lost season when they took a Day One beating against the Mustangs. They now sit atop the conference with home field advantage over the travelling Scots, and will be looking to take a 3-1 victory before the Xmas break. The rookies and returning backups from last season have clearly found their groove and found form just in time to snatch a win from the Tiger’s paws.
This is set to be a great match up as one team will take the spoils of a 3-1 record before the Xmas break and it will really shape the conference for the rest of the season. Hull seems to be finding its form and we can see the the fins appearing out of the water as the Knights try to keep afloat.
Knights to become shark bait.
Glasgow Tigers v Northumbria Mustangs
It just goes to show that anything can happen in Football. The past few weeks have shown strong indicators that Glasgow would have this conference sewn up begin prep for playoff football early on this season, but an upset win from Hull Sharks has thrown the league into turmoil making it all to play for in the 1 A North.
Northumbria will be looking to capitalise on the unease within the Glasgow camp to pull themselves out of the relegation basement with a win before Christmas, following the Sunderland Spartans’ dismantling at the hands of the Edinburgh Napier Knights. However, Mustang numbers seem to be dwindling in a similar fashion to the Spartans.
Northumbria’s offence will need to click this weekend against hard hitting Tigers defence who have only allowed 30 points to be scored this season the lowest in the conference so far.
With regards to Glasgow although it was highlighted that this was a battle of the defences with the score being 3-0 to the Tigers going to into the 4th quarter we have to ask the question of what happened to their two headed monster of an offence with Running Back Lewis King who has been the backbone of the Glasgow run game for the past nine years and dual threat Wildcat Hall of Famer Ewan Crawford. Who between them have been played large part in the 88 points the Tigers have racked up so far this season making them the highest scoring offence within the conference by 20 points. Was this just a slight trip up on the season or were some serious playmakers missing during the Scottish university exam season?
We aren’t ruling Northumbria out of the fight to stay in Division One just yet, but they will need to seriously rally for next semester in order to avoid a potential devastating season.
Tigers to regain form before the Xmas break.
By Andy Loch
Leeds Gryphons v Sheffield Sabre
The Gryphons have fallen well short of where they would have hoped to be this season. Last week they were put to the sword by the UCLan Rams who finally found their feet in their third outing of the season. The Gryphons look like they’re going to struggle all season in what has shown itself to remain one of the strongest conferences in Division One.
The Sabres nearly went into the half with a 7 point lead last week against Hallam, but ended up conceding after some long passes by the Warriors, and a great catch in the end zone tied things up at the interval. From there, the Sabres capitulated in the second half, but still looked like they could have caused some heartache for the Warriors if they’d played to form. The Sabres’ big play ability is a huge thing to be able to call upon in Division One – being able to score from 60 yards out is always a nice little trick to keep in your back pocket!
The Sabres will win this comfortably.
UCLAN Rams v LJMU Fury
After starting the season 0-2, a near unheard of for UCLan, they found a lot of offence last week as they put 36 past the hapless Gryphons. Having lost to the two Sheffield teams already the match against the Gryphons should have helped lift the spirits of the Rams before another big game against the surprising Fury team.
LJMU have been the surprise package in this conference this season, having beaten the Sabres and Gryphons, but then losing to the mighty Hallam. Playoff football is what is at stake for both these teams and the Sabres, as they jostle for position behind the Warriors.
This is a hard one to call, but based on the Rams finding their feet last time out, and home advantage I’m going to side with them for this one.
Rams to win.
By Erick Jupp
Warwick Wolves v Leicester Longhorns
Apologies for the confusion in last week’s predictions as there was an error with the fixtures, but now, this match-up is on the cards this weekend. The Wolves will be looking to bounce back from their heavy 47-7 to the University of Nottingham and look to head into the Christmas break with a win over their close competitors, the Leicester Longhorns.
The Longhorns got their first win of the season with a 24-12 win against the Staffordshire Stallions in their last outing in some bad weather conditions, but they got the job done at the end of the day. Their offence had some big plays which stretched the Stallions defence and their defence had a couple of sacks and fourth down turnovers. It was a big sigh of relief to get their first win and they will be looking to build on that when they go head to head with the Wolves.
Both teams need this victory to keep them competitive and take another step away from the foot of the table, and this will be one of those close match-ups where both teams will be looking to leave it all out on the field. The Wolves will look to make big plays on offence and the Longhorns will look to break Warwick’s defence with their ground game.
But in this occasion, the Wolves should just have enough here to get the W.