By Twm Owen
What could have been one of the most intriguing fixtures of the British American Football Division Two West season will take place this weekend.
The undefeated South Wales Warriors take on the Somerset Wyverns for the first time since escaping from Taunton with a narrow two-point victory in the reformed club’s debut fixture on the opening weekend of the 2018 season.
This Sunday’s fixture has been 14 months in the making. During that time the Wyverns had threatened to take flight before spluttering through their last two games to dampen expectations ahead of their trip to Llanharan Rugby Club’s Dairy Field (2.30pm).
Since the tense encounter last April, when the Wyverns scored in the dying seconds to almost snatch a draw, the Warriors have never looked back. The Llanharan-based side took the west title with ease, conceding only one further touchdown during the regular season while scoring at will, before their Division Two South title challenge was stopped at the semi-final stage.
But the Wyverns, who had so nearly marked their return after 20 years to the British American Football Association (BAFA) National League with a share of the spoils against the heavily fancied Warriors, had been questioning what could have been.
With clubs in Division Two only playing some of their rivals in home and away fixtures the west country side were never given the chance to take on the Warriors again during the 2018 season.
The debutants where just pipped to the final play-off place across the entire Southern Conference by west rivals the Worcestershire Black Knights, who then pulled out of their first round tie at Llanharan, citing a player shortage, and handing the undefeated Warriors a bye ahead of the semi-final.
Somerset’s musings on what might have been wouldn’t have been helped when the Warriors finally lost, at the semi-final stage, 37-12 to the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts who had defeated the Wyverns, 33-6, in their final warm up game before tasting competitive action against the Warriors.
Head coach John Chambers had seemed to channel all of those factors into the Wyverns’ preparations for this year’s campaign. After opening with an 8-12 victory at the Cornish Sharks the Wyverns gained revenge over the Black Knights with an impressive 42-6 home win.
A 2 and 0 start to the season had made teams pay attention but since their two victories in April the Wyverns have failed to fire suffering a 14-44 home loss to the inconsistent Bristol Apache and last Sunday were again defeated at home when the Torbay Trojans made the trip to Somerset.
That victory moved the Trojans clear of the Warriors at the top of the West Division with a 4-0 record, though the South Wales side have played a game less.
Against the Trojans the Wyverns offence not only failed to score but gifted two first quarter interceptions to the Trojans, which were returned for the only two touchdowns of the afternoon, to give the visitors a 12-0 victory.
Both offences laboured without reward throughout the game and though neither defence conceded both teams have typically given up at least a touchdown every game this year.
The Wyverns will also be aware that the Warriors, at home, put 55 unanswered points on the Black Knights, defeated the Apache 21-46 in Bristol and opened their season with a 33-0 victory away over the Cornish Sharks.
With the Trojans having recorded narrow victories over the Sharks, Apache and Wyverns, as well as a 46-0 victory in Worcester, it appears the English sides are capable of taking points off each other even if none have yet managed to do so against Torbay.
The heavy defeat to the Apache and a lacklustre loss to the Trojans has taken the gloss off the Wyverns’ start to the season and few will now be tipping them to avenge that narrow loss to the Warriors from 14 months ago. #