While there’s yet another round of postseason action for this week’s victors, the match ups that really matter are these ones! The winner from each of these games will find themselves playing premiership ball next season, with a shot at the BUCSball National Championship.
Glasgow Tigers v NTU Renegades
This week’s regional finale for Division One North pits two midlevel powerhouses against each other for the opportunity to replace Sheffield Hallam in the Premier. Most neutrals would probably like to see how either team would cope at the top level but it’s also an indicator of the ‘haves and the have nots’ that only three short seasons ago, prior to restructure, that Glasgow was getting reamed by a 100 points by Stirling.
Glasgow go into this game on the back of a phenomenal season which has seen their defence remain dominant all year and produce a ten game win streak. They had conceded only two touchdowns all season before conceding on a 99 yard passing play in last weekend’s second round rematch against Newcastle. However, their D stepped up and shut Newcastle down after that, just as they had to Sheffield the week before, forcing an impressive five turnovers.
The Tiger offense scored three first half touchdowns, two from QB Pepe Martin to Michael Yule, along with one on the ground by veteran feature tailback Lewis King. King’s outside style is (heavily) supplemented by the use of erstwhile Defensive Tackle/Defensive co-coordinator and GB starlet Tom ‘Sauce’ Lachendro who also scored in last week’s game.
The Renegades repeated their successes of last year cruising to a 7-1 record and the Midlands 1A division title. NTU started their season with a bang beating Warwick and UoN to assert themselves as the pack leaders in the competitive division. A return fixture loss to Warwick exposed their weakness against the option run along with some shortcomings on offence, before finishing the season with five straight wins to claim the title. However after two straight first-round losses in the postseason the Renegades will have known their season truly began in the playoffs.
The Renegades raced into a 21-0 lead against the Leeds Beckett in round one, before offensive mishaps allowed Carnegie back into the game and come within a score of winning. NTU Renegades, for reasons known only to BUCS, were then drawn away at bitter rivals UoN. The defence crushed UoN with five turnovers and a defensive shutout, and the NTU offence did enough to triumph for the 10th consecutive time against Nottingham. Rookie quarterback Calum Doherty has been a revelation since replacing Harris Tzen after Christmas, quickly building up a rapport with all-round playmaker ‘Gonz’. Karl Walkinshaw’s defence remains as dominant as it has always been, carrying on the fine tradition of having playmakers in the secondary with shutdown corner Josh Peck and Alfredo Ferreira, who lead the teams in picks.
It’s a tough one to call, but home field advantage and one last hurrah by a veteran Tigers team who have been foiled at the last hurdle for the last two years should see them edge it (although we fear for their safety next season if they do go up)
Glasgow by one score
Swansea Titans v Surrey Stingers
The Swansea Titans and the Surrey Stingers are the two remaining undefeated across the South’s first divisions and will face off at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport this Sunday to decide who will be playing Premier South football next season.
Both of these teams have recently become back-to-back division champions after both teams were denied promotion last year by the Kingston Cougars who beat the Titans (12-7) and the Stingers (27-7) on the way to “shocking the league”.
The similarities between these two do not stop with recent form; they both have a trio of danger men on offence, which have lead the Titans to 262 and the Stingers to 296 total points scored to date. The Titans even have those guys neatly numbered one, two and three!
It is well known what #1, Jacob Amadi, brings to the table for the Titans. #2, Joe Cotterill, has become almost as valuable as Amadi, throwing touchdowns, kicking field goals and picking off the opponent quarterbacks from his spot at safety. Then there is #3, first year wide receiver Sam Huxtable, the lesser known of the three, who is not only a threat catching the football but as a hammer in the run game and making plays on special teams.
The Stingers three punch begins with Jake Simpson who oozes control at the quarterback position. Lined up alongside Simpson in the back field is the tall running RB Nick Argiros who cannot stop breaking tackles and is the go-to-guy when the Stingers are in a pinch. Fellow Canadian, wide receiver Connor Watt, is the last of the musketeers for the Stingers. The speedster, Watt, is just as dangerous on the jet sweep as he is burning through the secondary.
The similarities stop when we address the defences. The Stingers have given up almost double the amount of scores this season; 124, to the Titans 69 points conceded. This is the tipping point when it comes to predicting a winner of this fixture. The Titans have difference makers on D like veteran linebacker George Downs-Wheeler, are quick to make in game adjustments, and create turnovers routinely.
The Stingers may have been effective on offence this year but will not have enough clout on the other side of the ball to slow down the Titans in what promises to be a high scoring affair. (Eds: Expect 11th/12th place rings.)
Titans 38 Stingers 24