Some big games in the top tier as Swansea look to avenge their only loss on the season so far when the Birmingham Lions come to town, while the Saints seek to concrete their place atop the Premier North.
Will the Renegades finally get the monkey off their back and take their first scalp of the season, or are Stirling set for a second-half-of-the-season resurgence as per previous years?
Durham Saints vs Loughborough Students
Unbeaten at Christmas, Durham have settled themselves after some early close calls and are regarded as firm favourites to take the Northern crown in the spring. However, not many would have pegged Loughborough to be the team closest on their tail, albeit as one of three teams on 2-2.
The Students have the Premier North’s stingiest defence, but that will get a firm test against a high-flying Saints offence that is growing in confidence each week.
The two’s clash earlier in the season was closer than many expected, but we think it’ll be a lot more one-sided this time out.
Durham to win
NTU Renegades vs Stirling Clansmen
We’re tired of writing every week how close the Renegades keep getting to that first Premier Division win, so we can only imagine what it must feel like in the NTU camp! Three of their four losses have been by less than a touchdown and they’ve scored more points than second placed Loughborough, yet the only numbers that matter are 0-4.
Their biggest defeat came at the hands of this weekend’s opponents, with Stirling’s Ash Hopkinson bagging four picks in their December matchup. It’s been a pretty disappointing season for last year’s National Championship finalists, but a win at the weekend should put them in the driver’s seat for the Northern #2 seed.
Expect points aplenty and a narrow NTU loss… again.
Stirling to win
Swansea Titans vs Birmingham Lions
The 2-1 Swansea Titans host the 2-2 Birmingham Lions in a match up that will have huge ramifications in the playoff line up this year. A win for either team would make them favourites to host a playoff game this post season, the loser being forced to travel north in the quarterfinals to the dreary, wet north…
The last time these two teams met the Lions experience shone through in the fourth quarter as they edged away to win 28-19.
Birmingham QB Sammy-Lee Baker had his best game of the season torching the Swansea secondary, while the hard running from Elliot Walters dug the Lions O out of several deep holes that were created by Swansea (and GB) DL Femi Morak and All-DC LB George Downs-Wheeler.
Swansea QB Sam Huxtable created numerous big plays on the ground and proved to be a real threat, however struggled at times to connect in the aerial attack. If Swansea can find more rhythm through the air then this one could be another tight finish.
An away day to Wales has been an unpleasant trip for many teams in recent years, the Titans haven’t lost at “Fortress Llandarcy” since the Bristol Barracuda shocked them back in 2014, however they have never welcomed a team with as much talent as the Birmingham Lions. Brum notoriously start slow, but get hotter as the season goes into the second half of the year and we expect this to be no different.
The Lions will finish this one on top and move to a winning record for the first time this season.
The Birmingham Lions to win