We’ve had the minions take a look at the standings and remaining fixtures to decipher what every team in contention – or fighting for survival – needs to do. First up, the Premier…
In the North, Edinburgh Wolves (3-4-1) and Sheffield Giants (3-5) are fighting for pride, unable to reach #2 but safe from relegation. Time to take a look at who IS in contention though…
(7-0; vs Wolves, at Giants, vs Nighthawks)
Mathematically, Tamworth need two more wins to secure the Premier North crown for a second consecutive season. At 7-0, Merseyside could still pip them to #1 if the ‘Nix lost by 31+ points when the sides meet again in August. With post-season football already secure, anyone willing to bet against the ‘Nix in the North?
(6-2; vs Pirates, at Phoenix)
Following their stellar 2016 campaign, the Nighthawks are one win, or one Pirates defeat away from qualifying for the playoffs in both of their seasons since entering the top tier. They’ll want to control their own destiny by taking down the Pirates on 23 July. Having trounced them 45-14 already, they should be confident.
East Kilbride Pirates
(3-3-1; at Nighthawks, vs Wolverines, at Giants)
The Pirates’ playoff hopes are hanging by a shred. At 3-3-1, they need to win out away to Merseyside, home to Lancashire and away to Sheffield, as well as hoping the Nighthawks fall to Tamworth. Lose once though, and the Pirates are post-season free for a second straight season.
(0-8; at Pirates, vs Wolves)
Following the heavy defeat to Sheffield Giants, Lancashire Wolverines are rooted to the bottom of the Premier North and will be playing Division One football in 2018. The Wolverines grew in to a steady top tier side over the years, so here’s hoping they can bounce back relatively quickly.
In the South, the formality of London-dominated playoff football continues, with Bristol Aztecs (3-4) unable to build on recent successful seasons in closing the gap.
(7-1; vs Aztecs, vs Blitz)
Already locked in to the post-season with the Blitz, the Warriors simply have to win out to finish top of the Premier South for the umpteenth time in a row. We say simply, they still need to face the Blitz again, but confidence will be soaring following the 35-13 win last week.
(7-1; vs Knights, at Warriors)
The same formula applies to the Blitz. Win out, and they enter the post-season with a conference title and home field advantage. They’ll need to make a number of adjustments when facing the Warriors in Game 10, but they visit of Farnham should give them opportunity to give some of the starters a bit of a rest.
As it stands, there is no official relegation from the Premier South owing to South Wales Warriors’ voluntary drop down prior to the 2017 starting. However, if BAFA do decide to drop the bottom ranked team down;
(2-6; at Knights, at Aztecs)
Bury will avoid finishing bottom of the conference if Farnham lose to London Blitz at the weekend. Should Farnham win, one win from the Saints’ final two games – including against Farnham again – would guarantee their safety and a respectful first season in the top tier.
(0-7; at Blitz, vs Saints, vs Aztecs)
It’s now or never for Farnham, who have endured a horrid 2017 season. It’s quite simple. To avoid finishing bottom of the pile, the Knights have to win out – including the penultimate game of the regular season against Bury, and hope that the Saints falter against Bristol.