Game of the Week – BAFANL 2016 Week 17: East Kent @ Berkshire

East Kent Mavericks @ Berkshire Renegades

It’s not often we revisit a return match up of a Game of the Week pairing we already look a look at earlier in the season… and that’s especially true when they’re two teams from BAFANL’s basement tier!

However, let’s be clear on this, these two aren’t really Division Two teams – as their performances this season have shown.

Only a couple of seasons ago these programmes were mixing it up in the then Premiership South, and so while both programmes were disappointed with their rapid tumble down the tiers (Berkshire due withdrawal ahead of the 2015 season and EKM though a pair of poor seasons) they’ve both clearly used the time to rebuild their programmes and are both showing the kind of form that should see them have a good shot at Division One balling next season… so long as their success isn’t just the result of a squishy conference.

For now however there’s a conference crown to decide and while both teams will still have a game to play following this match up, it’s more than likely that the winner of this fixture will be the ones earning themselves a swanky crowned logo courtesy of Adobe Photoshop.

Photography by Ken Matcham, check him out at: kenmatcham.com/ Shared via Facebook.com/East.Kent.Mavericks
Photography by Ken Matcham, check him out at: kenmatcham.com/
Shared via Facebook.com/East.Kent.Mavericks

Who are they?

What, we need to tell you again? Weren’t you paying attention last time, eleven weeks ago?

Fine! We’ll give a little update, just to show how much love we have for the #BritballNation!

All in all both teams have got to be pretty pleased with the seasons they’ve put together. Both sit at 7-1 and a win on Sunday will secure a guaranteed postseason berth for whichever side is the victor – though whether that’s as conference champs/runners-up or even a third place seed won’t necessarily be decided until the following week.

While the Mavericks hold the head to head here (more on that below) they were blindsided in Week Nine by a surprisingly strong Bournemouth Bobcats side whose shock 29-14 win on East Kent’s own turf means that, if we’ve got this right… There’s still a potential for Bobcats to swipe the conference crown? (Eds: WARNING: It’s there, but figuring it out may cause headaches and nausea.)

It looks like the loss to Bournemouth might have been the nudge the Mavericks needed to get themselves up to speed as they’ve put in strong performances each week following their loss and are coming into this fixture with back to back #50Burgers.

Berkshire meanwhile have actually appeared the more consistent of these two teams this year. This is particularly true on defence where, while their O hasn’t been putting up the flashy numbers the Mavericks have, the Renegades have only conceded more than one score in one game so far this season…

Shared via facebook.com/berks.ren.afc
Shared via facebook.com/berks.ren.afc

When last they met…

…Which was this one.

Yeah, these two met in our Week Six Game of the Week where we predicted the Renegades would edge it on account of their greater familiarity with the end zone coming into the game. While East Kent had put up some really rather modest scorelines early in the season – such as only a 12-0 win in Week One over the young Hastings Conquerors – Berkshire had put up a #50Burger in their season opener, and followed up with a dominant performance over Bournemouth.

However, all this mattered for little on the day as the Renegades never seemed to get up to speed, while the Mavericks’ aerial attack took their otherwise solid defence apart.

East Kent came away with a 26-12 victory and, were it not for their loss to the Bobcats, could have still afforded to lose this match up by anything less than 14 points and still held the head to head. As is, should the Mavericks lose by even a single they’ll be asking a lot from the Hastings Conquerors in Week 18 to upset the Renegades and allow EKM to snatch back the crown.

Photography by Ken Matcham, check him out at: kenmatcham.com/ Shared via Facebook.com/East.Kent.Mavericks
Photography by Ken Matcham, check him out at: kenmatcham.com/
Shared via Facebook.com/East.Kent.Mavericks

What to watch out for:

  • Wideout-turned-QB Mark Hughes was a real difference maker when these two teams met in Week Six – throwing up three TDs to his receiving corps of Alex Conyers, Rob Mcdonald and Luke Jones.
  • Running back Chris Lacey started the season as Kent’s feature back and has a nose for the end zone, though he actuallt missed the Renegades fixture – thus allowing the aerial attack to shine. Carrying injuries, the Mavericks have also moved Lucas Deveson into the backfield. Though new to the position Lucas has certainly hit the ground running, picking up three rushing scores in each of his two outings so far.
  • The Renegades can’t expect to sleep on the Maverick’s defence either – conceding a safety in Week Six when Tom Kenmir took the ball carrier down in his own end zone. Dave Squires heads up a typically dominant defensive line and former GB Linebacker Dudley Ross shut down the Renegades run game in their last meeting.
  • Last but by no means least, the Mavericks have an effective and accurate kicking game off the boot of John Ellender, which may prove the difference maker if the game comes down to the wire! #KickersArePeopleToo
  • His first year under centre for the Renegades, Dan Storey continues to develop his relationship with his receivers, continuing to show a strong bond with Jeremie Leonard who leads the team in TD receptions.
  • Berkshire’s ground game works well with a committee consisting of Paul Cook, Sam O’Brien and Andy Mayall (Loughborough Students), though they’ll need the offensive line to step up this week as they lost the battle in the trenches last time these two met.
  • Outside the last EKM game, the Renegades D has looked like one of the most reliable in the tier, currently ranking third in Division Two conceding an average of only 5.25 PAPG – meaning 60% of their points conceded on the season came from the Mavericks’ 26 points last time around.
  • However, the Renegades D have shone where the Mavericks struggled, with the third place Bobcats only managing a single score against Berkshire in each of their two meetings. This is largely thanks to a strong core of defensive lineman and linebackers such as Stuart Burrows, Dan Sam, Lee Baxter and Daren Starr who have typically shut down opponents run games.
  • Of course, it wasn’t the ground game that made the Renegades pay in Canterbury, and so they’ll be looking for defensive backs Zaid Aileru and Pavel Vasilijev to keep EKM’s passing game in check.

 

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Photography by Ken Matcham, check him out at: kenmatcham.com/ Shared via Facebook.com/East.Kent.Mavericks
Photography by Ken Matcham, check him out at: kenmatcham.com/
Shared via Facebook.com/East.Kent.Mavericks

What do they have to say about one another?

 

East Kent Mavericks:

“Last time I predicted a two score win and we got it.  This time we are travelling light and banged up.  We will still win but this time only by one.

 

Berkshire Renegades:

“Over the course of the club’s history we have played the Mavericks more than any other team, in all three divisions of BAFA.

Our defeat earlier in the season was extremely disappointing, and we’ll have to be at best to win on Sunday and give ourselves the chance to win the division the following week.

 

And what do we think?

Either way we believe both these programmes are headed to playoffs.

In an ideal world, the Mavericks will win this one, and then lose to the Bobcats next weekend, and we’ll likely see a three-way tie at the top of the conference that will make our tame Zebra go cross-eyed.

However, outside the Week Six loss Berkshire have actually looked the more consistent of the two programmes. The Mavericks say they’re thin on the ground and carrying some walking wounded – but they span that line last time too and look what happened then!

Truthfully, this is head against heart for us here at DC. We picked Berkshire last time and signs again point to them being the team that should triumph in this fixture…

…but our heart says we want this conference to come right down to the wire and the best way for that to happen is for the Mavericks to win and the three top teams roll the dice for the conference crown on the final day of the regular season!

 

Berkshire Renegades 20 – 28 East Kent Mavericks

 

Oh, and also lest we forget…

This is a thing:

Berkshire Renegades #1 Fan
Berkshire Renegades #1 Fan
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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