Game of the Week – BAFANL 2016 Week 11: Olympians @ Bristol

London Olympians @ Bristol Aztecs

We’re in the Premiership South this weekend as we explore a match up between two teams that are coming into this game from very different directions in terms of the progression of their seasons.

Image shared via https://www.facebook.com/london.olympians
Image shared via https://www.facebook.com/london.olympians

Who are they?

For the Olympians, who we’re afraid we didn’t hear back from this week, they travel across to the west country off the back of their worst loss of their painfully winless year. A large turnover on their roster has led to the Olympians having a disappointing year thus far. Their narrow week nine loss to the South Wales Warriors gave the impression the Os were on the up, but last weekend saw them face a London Blitz team with blood on their mind and a point to prove – the Blitz piling on their largest offensive output of the season in a 68-7 smashing of the outclassed Olympians.

Who do the Olympians have to thank for the Blitz’s foul mood last Sunday? Why, no other than the team they’ll be facing this weekend!

Bristol, as a city, has long been Britain’s Britball ‘bridesmaid, but never the bride’, as the big teams from the big smoke have dominated Britbowls in recent years.

The city has more teams per population than anywhere else in the nation… and successful ones at that. Two senior sides, two Uniball programmes and wealth of youth and junior schemes and teams, along with the ever-impressive Filton Academy Pride, all call the city home.

However, last weekend’s come-from-behind victory for the Aztecs over the London Blitz at the University of Hertfordshire represents the high water mark for Bristol football since Aztecs Youth snagged themselves a championship in 2010. Sure, Head Coach Chris Powles’ side will most likely still not see playoff football this season, but best we can tell this is the Blitz’s first domestic loss to anyone other than the London Warriors since their Britbowl XXII (2008) loss to the Coventry Jets!

Could we be seeing the beginning of a new era of triple championship challengers in the south? Time will tell.

The first hurdle will be for the ‘Tecs to ensure whatever spark ignited them in week nine keeps them aflame this weekend as the Olympians are likely heading across country with vengeance on their mind.

Bristol's last second TD to give them the win over the Farnham Knights. Image shared via https://www.facebook.com/bristolaztecs
Bristol’s last second TD to give them the win over the Farnham Knights.
Image shared via https://www.facebook.com/bristolaztecs

When last they met…

Week two and both team’s opening match up of the year – the Aztecs ran out comfy winners 30-8 despite the away trip. If you compare this to only the previous year where the Os were able to actually defeat the ‘Tecs on their own turf and emerge 15-20 winners? It’s clear that the capital’s #3 team (and the most successful programme in Britbowl history) has taken a dip in form and will have a tough time holding on to their premiership spot this year.

 

What to watch out for:

  • We don’t have all that much to go on from the Olympians, but even with the slump of form their having they still have a selection of talent that any team would be a fool to sleep on.
  • Luke Sherington stands under centre for the offence and isn’t afraid to air out the ball – hitting wideout Adam Camp for the long gain that set up the O’s only score last weekend – a 1-yard dice from RB Ben Amaoke.
  • Jonathon Cobham heads up a defence that has struggled to keep their endzone clear this season, averaging more than 40points conceded per game so far this year, but they also held the South Wales Warriors to only 30 points earlier in the season so they are capable of keeping the score line tight if the Aztecs don’t come out on form.
  • However, that’s a lot to ask, as the ‘Tecs offence has been one of their highlights this season – averaging 32ppg outside their games against the two big boys from the capital. QB Gareth Thomas is having a career year having already claimed the Aztecs all-time passing record this year. He was knocked out of action in the second half against the Blitz in week nine, but with two weeks to recover is hopeful to return to the field for this match up. If not, there’s always All-DC Uniball QB Simon George waiting in the wings – the ‘Tecs are a little spoilt for talent under centre it seems.
  • WR / DB Joe Cotterill is making plays both sides of the ball and in the kicking game – including a crucial FG to get the ‘Tecs back into their game against the Blitz. The Swansea Titans player is an all-round threat, and gives the QBs options in the passing game when lining up alongside stand-out wideout Sam Hemmingway.
  • Bristol have had their greater troubles on the other side of the ball, their defence averaging a disappointing 30ppg conceded, including allowing the likes of South Wales and Farnham to rack up enough points to challenge their own offensive production.
  • That said, they stepped up BIG against the Blitz with DE Theo Williamson leading the defensive line in his first year as captain they managed a complete shutout of the Blitz’s high powered offence in the second half.

 

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Check out the Blitz/Aztecs second half HUDL highlights!

 

What do they have to say about one another?

 

Chris Powles – Head Coach, Bristol Aztecs:

“We know the Olympians have not had the season they would have hoped, I see a lot of turnover in their squad of players, but they still have good athletes, they have nothing to lose and so are dangerous. They always motivate themselves for this fixture, having beaten us in Bristol the last two years and they still hold a 5-4 game advantage over us since they returned to the Prem and something like 12- 5 all-time record over us.

We are capable of great football, but we are also capable of very average football, so we can’t let our last result be a factor this week. We need to forget that and focus on this game, it won’t be easy. We had a decent win at the Olympians to start the year but we have not played with the consistency required to win on a regular basis.

If we want to have a chance at postseason football we need to start putting back-to-back wins together, which we haven’t done this year. We’ll play hard Sunday and try to get a result, but we are certainly expecting a battle.”

 

London Olympians:

We didn’t hear back from the Olympians this week, but we suspect they would have said something along the lines of:

“Stop being dicks to us in your ‘Good Week Bad Week’ article!”

Image shared via https://www.facebook.com/london.olympians
Image shared via https://www.facebook.com/london.olympians

And what do we think?

While the Olympians have a habit of upsetting Bristol on their own turf, it certainly looks like the Aztecs have the more talented roster. The Bristol team’s biggest battle is likely to be against themselves, ensuring they’re not complacent following their big win over Blitz.

If they come out of the gates fast and their defence shows the same form as it did in week nine, this game will be a one-way street. However if they resort to their previous sloppiness we might see something resembling a shootout… Only the Aztecs, contrary to their namesakes, have bigger guns.

 

Bristol Aztecs 30 – 12 London Olympians

 

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Nick

Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1