By Thomas Snee
Leeds Beckett Carnegie v Durham Saints
Leeds Beckett have ridden the crest of the underdog wave very successfully for the past season and a half, causing some big shocks on their way to a Division One title and a 2-2 record in the Premier North, and up next for them is a rematch with a Durham Saints side that they ran close before Christmas.
The Saints toiled to a narrow victory on that occasion, and replicated that model in last week’s win over Derby Braves, although they were missing several of their better players on that occasion.
With two big defences on show, we’re not expecting a shootout in this one, but we fancy Durham’s scholarship athletes to help raise their performance once more, and to shine through late on.
Durham to win
Stirling Clansmen v Derby Braves
Stirling are the only team that can realistically catch Durham in the race for the top Northern seed and the role of presumptive National Championship favourites. The defending champs restart their season against a Derby Braves outfit that has surprisingly struggled so far in 2017/18 – echoing the NTU Renegades of the year before in being extremely competitive, and yet never quite finding the route to victory so far this season.
A change of coach came for the Braves over the winter break, with Noel Cassar stepping down to be replaced by Bernie Hackshaw. Hackshaw’s experienced hand on the rudder will be needed for Derby, who need to find a win from somewhere to ensure they stay in the Prem for another year.
Will that happen this week though? Don’t count on it… Stirling have a knack of getting hot during the cold latter half of the season!
Stirling to win
By Rose Wilford
Portsmouth Destroyers v Birmingham Lions
The game that starts of the second half of the season in the Prem South is between the third and fourth place teams.
At the beginning of the season, I certainly wouldn’t have expected to see the Lions as the third place team, having seen them win numerous National Championships. However, with the Hurricanes storming in front with four wins and Swansea holding the head to head over Brum? That is how the table currently sits.
The Lions will look to this weekend’s game to prove that they still have what it takes to be one of the best teams in the UK.
Following on from an impressive win over table-topping Herts, this weekend will be their opportunity to show that their loss against Swansea was nothing more than a speed bump in their road to a Prem South title.
Given that the Destroyers have only beaten the 0-4 Bath Killer Bees, and have already lost to the Lions this season? Their chances this weekend aren’t looking good.
Of course, this being Britball, anything could happen and due to the fact that actually last time they played they got two scores on the Birmingham side, they may well have used the almost two months break to get themselves in a strong position to take on the Lions.
I’ve got to give it to Birmingham this weekend.