#Sapphire17 | Division Two North & West Tournament Four Preview

This Saturday sees the Staffordshire Surge host the final round of the 2017 Sapphire Series, welcoming the Cardiff Valkyries, Chester Romans, Sandwell Steelers and Teesside Steelers one last time.

The Teesside Steelers are coming into the finals with an impressive undefeated record sitting atop the conference table at 6-0. Teesside have proven themselves a team of athletes what with the likes of Sam Parker and Siobhan Henry causing mayhem for the opposition. If the Steelers win at least one of their fixtures this weekend they have secured themselves the title!

Photo (c) Andy Neale - https://www.facebook.com/Whizzyfingers
Photo (c) Andy Neale – https://www.facebook.com/Whizzyfingers

The first set of games, Teesside take on the returning rookies Cardiff Valkyries for the second time this season. Cardiff are returning to the North & West Conference after swapping places with the Peterborough Royals last round. Cardiff took on the Wembley Stallions and Oxford Saints in round three unfortunately losing both games.

valkyriesThis weekend however sees the triumphant return of Valkyrie’s defence superstar Zoe John. Zoe was sadly unable to play due to concussion in round two. After a great performance as team mascot down in Oxford, Zoe will be back leading the Cardiff defence.

Meanwhile on pitch two the Staffordshire Surge will rematch the Sandwell Steelers. Staffordshire achieved their first ever competitive win last round against the Peterborough Royals which proved to be a high scoring game ending 38-30. However against a stacked Sandwell defence we expect this game might go a little differently…

Straight after this, a for-sure-to-be-tired Staffordshire take on the Chester Romans. The Romans offensive scheme has typically been difficult to stop this Sapphire Series so we expect this to be a high scoring game. Staffordshire will need to match the tempo and physicality which could be difficult without a break between matches.

The final games of the season see Sandwell take on Cardiff. The Valkyries, now almost at the end of their first contact competitive games, have established themselves as fighters with a lot of potential.  Cardiff have put up points in every game they’ve played, however Sandwell’s defence shut them out in the last matchup. The only points being scored defensively through safeties. Cardiff will have a task on their hands this weekend if they want to hold on to their #neverbeennilled hashtag!

After being down to ten (wo)men last round, Sandwell are back to an almost full roster with some players returning from injuries adding depth to the team. We expect to see the Steelers on top form for this weekend’s final!

Last but DEFINITELY not least, the formidable Teesside Steelers have their rematch with Chester Romans. After a somewhat fiery game between the pair in the first round which saw tempers flare amongst players and coaches alike we expect this to be a seriously hard-hitting game of football. Grab the popcorn folks because this one will be the game to watch!

Photo (c) Andy Neale - https://www.facebook.com/Whizzyfingers
Photo (c) Andy Neale – https://www.facebook.com/Whizzyfingers

Teesside were formed in the 2nd wave of women’s teams entering into competition in 2014. They have recruited and developed 7 GB internationals in the last three years (Marwood, Robson, Mann, Leighton, Henry, Martin and Lewis) with all but two moving up to Division One football. With a steadying of the ship with new coaches who have stayed and a further recruitment they have taken hold of their destiny once more and should *touches wood* claim their first ever title on Saturday. It has been a long time coming.

Alas, the Sapphire Series is drawing to a close and it’s been a hell of a ride. Teesside almost have the title in the bag and as for the rest of the teams, we’ll find out this weekend!

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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