by Pete Laird
Edinburgh Predators v Newcastle Raiders
Too soon to call this a title decider? The Raiders haven’t played a game yet, but as last years relegated Division One outfit, should be best equipped to get out of the division. Their only action we are aware of so far was a pre-season matchup against the Prem’s Durham Saints and they performed very well according to our sources. A good passing attack from spread, with some big physical WR’s who made plays against last year’s National finalists.
The Raiders have a 35 defence with very aggressive backers and a FS who can defend the pass and fill the box on run. Expect the former Div One team to play like they have a point to prove (especially against this pundit who picked the Predators as the division favourites; every team loves a cause to rally to!).
The Predators put in a strong performance against York last weekend emerging victorious 27-14. Calum Davidson notched his 2nd and 3rd Touchdown of the season and Edinburgh seem to have found a new Quarterback of the future with Harley Ashcroft throwing for 5 TD’s on the year so far. Defensively rookie safety James Ellis returned an Interception for a score against the Centurions and the Defense didn’t concede until the 4th Quarter.
If I wasn’t busy I’d love to go watch this game.
Edinburgh in a squeaker
Lancaster Bombers v Heriot-Watt
In what was one of BUCS open secrets, the Lancaster-York St Johns game did not go ahead last weekend (and there remains doubt about all their other fixtures). Which means the Bombers have now had two postponed fixtures in two weeks and have yet to take the field in anger.
Heriot-Watt hope to bounce back after their 22-12 loss to York on the opening weekend. HWU have an All-DC offensive lineman in Dooby Anyadiegwu and a Quarterback who will control the game rather than stretch it.
However it is still unclear if that opening loss is a sign of HWU struggles or York’s competence. Rumours are starting to circle about dissension in the ranks from the players and amongst the new coaching staff. This could start to spiral if a win doesn’t come quick.
Lancaster for the opening day win
UWS Pyros v York Centurions
York’s loss to Predators puts them into the third place hunt in the conference for a possible playoff spot. They showed up well against the Predators despite having to chase the game in the second half. They will therefore relish yet another long trip to Scotland but should expect a better result this weekend against the much maligned UWS Pyro’s.
It’s hard to find positives in an 82-0 shellacking that the Pyro’s suffered at the hands of Teesside last weekend.
That’s 138 points conceded in two games in the era of 12 minute quarters and the running clock. If this was an away game I’d predict a player safety call off. Instead we can expect more of the same and a fairly constant comedy stream from the Centurions Twitter feed which mysteriously went silent in the second half last weekend. Let’s hope they’ve charged their batteries this Sunday.
York by a lot.
by Charlie Coë
Bangor MudDogs v Keele Crusaders
The MudDogs made light work of the Raptors on Sunday as they ran out 32-8 winners at home to go 1-0 – demonstrating that they have more than compensated for the loss of key veteran players in the offeason.
They get the chance to notch up another in the W column when they host the Crusaders this weekend.
Keele have had to wait until Week Three to get their season up and running, but it looks like their 17/18 campaign might stumble into gear this Sunday.
When these two sides faced-off almost exactly a year ago, with Keele as the hosts, the MudDogs won comfortably to the tune of a 35-0 scoreline and there seems to be little sign that much has changed since then.
We’re picking the MudDogs to take this one.
Manchester Tyrants v Edge Hill Vikings
As everyone but the most optimistic of Chester faithful would have predicted, the Tyrants eased their way to victory on Sunday by more than a handful of scores.
The Tyrants have the potential to make a speedy return to the second tier this season, and we’re not expecting the Vikings – who were comfortably beaten by Liverpool – to be too much of an obstacle in this one.
Nonetheless, we expect the Vikings to put up more of a fight than the Legion and keep the Tyrants from hitting the 50-burger mark for the second week in a row.
Manchester should come out victorious, but expect Edge Hill to make them sweat for it.
Tarannau Aberystwyth v Liverpool Raptors
Just one week after seeing off their local rivals in a comfortable opening weekend victory, the ‘Pool were brought crashing back down to earth with a 32-8 defeat to Bangor – a side they restricted to just eight points at the tail end of last season.
You have to wonder whether the Tarannau would trade their thumb-twiddling start to the season, during which time bad weather and absent opposition have meant zero playing time thus far, for Liverpool’s up-and-down opening fortnight.
Either way, this is a tough one to call. The third tier realignment means our best indicator for how this one might go is these teams’ respective preseason preparation.
Liverpool have had a commendable recruitment drive this year, and we expect their superior roster size and coaching roster to give them the extra edge here.
by Rose Wilford
Huddersfield Hawks vs Lincoln Colonials
The Hawks have had longer than most to prepare for their season this year and with the loss of their starting running back and safety their approximate 20-30 player roster may seem small in comparison with other teams.
However, as I’m sure the ‘Nation will be aware, numbers aren’t important it’s the quality of the players they have. The Hawks have been focused during their preseason with both a training camp and a scrimmage. After losing three of their games last year with just one score difference the Hawks have said they will be looking at the execution of their plays this year as they want to come back with more ‘bite’.
The Colonials loss to MMU came as a surprise after the team finished third in the conference last year, I’m hearing that the potential loss of some players over the off season had more of an impact on the game than Lincoln would have liked.
Still, having spoken to Head Coach Chris George has said ‘the guys have really got to work over the last two weeks and cannot wait ’til Saturday! The teams work rate and attitude has been nothing but exceptional after what was a tough first outing. The young O Line has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks. I’d expect the see HB/WR Elliot Marris and DE Pat Watson to have big days leading from the front.’
I think this game may be a close match up but I think the Hawks may come off the successor on the day.
Coventry Jets vs Worcester Royals
After a strong game last weekend against MMU, where the Jets had a great first quarter scoring 26 points in the first twelve minutes, this weekend they host Worcester Royals.
The Jets were able to play both rookies and veterans on Sunday, with last year’s ‘one to watch’ Justin Alpha scoring the first touchdown for the Jets on the first play of the game. The Jets should be feeling pretty pleased with their performance all around, as this weekend sees them face what could be their toughest competitor in the Midlands 2A in the recently relegated Royals.
The Royals haven’t won a game since December 2015 so will be coming into the Midlands 2A with a point to prove after having sat in Div One for the past two years. After a preseason scrimmage with Warwick Wolves at the end of October the Royals have been relatively quiet about their practice sessions. Could they be plotting the greatest comeback of the season? Only time will tell…
I think the Jets will be successful on the day although I am looking forward to seeing how the Royals get on in Div Two.