#Sapphire17 | Division Two North & West Tournament Three Preview

This Saturday brings round three of the Sapphire Series hosted by the current leaders the Teesside Steelers. Rivals Chester Romans are hot on their tails and it’s all still to play for in this conference.

Photo (c) Geoff White - check out his fantastic work at gw-images.com
Photo (c) Geoff White – check out his fantastic work at gw-images.com

The reigning Teesside Steelers will certainly be looking to maintain their undefeated record on home turf this weekend. Teesside are undeniably the team to beat in this conference and have put on spectacular performances from both offence and defense so far. Not only that, but we feel it’s worth mentioning the great sportsmanship shown by this team. The Steelers play nothing short of classy football and win games the honest way.

Teesside have no doubt been great this season, however if we cast our minds back to Sapphire 2016, this is an all too familiar story. The Steelers maintained the lead in their Division Two Northern Conference until the very end when the title was snagged by the Edinburgh Wolves. With two more rounds to go, nothing can be certain just yet!

Teesside captain Sam Parker spoke with us

“The Steelers are hard at work preparing for round three. It’s going to be hard to predict the outcome with all teams in the conference improving every round, but we are going to bring everything we’ve got! So far we’re loving the tournament this year!”

Photo (c) Geoff White - check out his fantastic work at gw-images.com
Photo (c) Geoff White – check out his fantastic work at gw-images.com

On the other end of the spectrum the Staffordshire Surge are yet to secure a win in this conference. Now halfway through their first ever contact tournament the Surge are taking advantage of the competition to help develop their rookie team on both sides of the ball. The Surge will have to work hard if they want to take a win this weekend. Assistant head coach Christian Thompson had this to say

“We feel really good with the way we have played and progressed from round one. As coaches we are especially keen to see how our new offensive plays and defensive formations will stand against this next round. It’s been a great journey so far and we can’t wait to get some more experience against such great opposition!”

Meanwhile the Sandwell Steelers are operating much the same as their previous season with a current drawing 2-2 record. But don’t count the Steelers out just yet. Sandwell have shown real fire this series, especially in their strong defensive unit. We spoke to defensive coordinator Sam Rafferty who explained

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“The conference is really competitive this year and I feel good about where we are at the moment. We’re working hard to ensure we continue to improve every round and bring some more wins to Sandwell. I think this next round is the most important for us. After a heavy loss to Chester it’s our chance to prove that we are one of the teams to watch this year.”

The Steelers will need to take home two wins this weekend if they want to be in with a chance to compete for one of the top spots in the conference.  But Sandwell have arguably the toughest fixtures this Saturday facing the current top two teams… Round three will be a Herculean task for this Midlands team.

On a high after their two wins from their home tournament, the Chester Romans will be hoping for a repeat performance this round. Chester have established themselves as contenders for this conference title following their win against the Sandwell Steelers in round two.

CHester Romans

Saturday the Romans rematch Sandwell and face the rookie Peterborough Royals. If Chester can secure two wins this will almost ensure their position in the conference, meaning they can fight it out with Teesside for the top.

However the Romans brutal offensive scheme has yet to flummox the seasoned Teesside in this series or any previous Sapphire for that matter… Chester will have to work hard if they want to be in with a chance for the title and defeat the Teesside Steelers.

This round welcomes the Peterborough Royals for a cameo appearance in the North & West conference. The Royals swap places with the Cardiff Valkyries in an attempt to reduce the amount of travel for both teams. Whilst the geographical perspective is understood, both these teams will have a challenge on their hands facing not-before-seen teams.

The Royals have a similar record to Cardiff in their respective conference (1-3) and have shown some real potential in their defense so far. It will be interesting to see how they match up to their North-Westerly opponents. We spoke with Royals defensive captain Victoria Boyd;

“We are excited to venture into the North & West conference this weekend. We haven’t had the opportunity to play these teams yet and we are looking forward to seeing what we can achieve. We are enjoying our first kitted season, learning lots and are excited for what’s to come.”

 

Fixtures:

  • Sandwell vs Chester
  • Teesside vs Staffordshire
  • Chester vs Peterborough
  • Sandwell vs Teesside
  • Staffordshire vs Peterborough
TEAMWLTPForPAgt
Teeside Steelers (C)71020042
Chester Romans62021668
Sandwell Steelers53011799
Cardiff Valkyries170110248
Staffordshire Surge17083262
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