With a week’s headstart on the rest of the series, the top tier of Sapphire is already seeing rivalries emerging, paces being set…
So far in the South, only one team managed to emerge from the opening tourney unscathed… will that continue into Tourney Two?
Division 1A South, Tournament Two Preview
By Claudie Allan
With only a week between tournaments, teams are jumping right back into action this weekend and will not have had the time to truly implement any significant changes. They will be relying on being even more well-drilled on what they already have in their toolbox, rather than trying to expand based on what they’ve learned about their opponents following last week’s meeting. It also doesn’t give teams much time to get back to full strength.
The London Warriors fielded a very small squad last week but still managed to give the reigning champions a run for their money. This weekend, they will be looking to show everyone what their defensive unit is truly capable of. Hopefully they will have a few more players to bring with them; back-to-back games on back-to-back weekends is tiring at the best of times, let alone when you have to run long reps through lack of depth in any position.
Following trading wins with the London side last season, the Hertfordshire Tornadoes looked to punch their card against the Warriors in Tourney One, but instead lost a string of offensive players, including not only their starting QB but also their back-up. With a second opportunity to rack that win against the Warriors, the Tornadoes are going to be hoping that they get their offensive ballers back in action, don’t pick up any more injuries, and that they can perform at the level they hoped-for last weekend. If they’re hoping for their ‘traditional’ top-two-in-the-south finish they’ll need to at least split the series with the Warriors again most likely.
The Tornadoes other game of the weekend is against the home team, Birmingham. Always hunting for that elusive win against the Lions, Herts will definitely be looking to brawl with Birmingham, but odds are player health may well determine whether they instead get mauled by the Lions.
The Derby Braves came into this series after a tough time last year, finishing just sixth nationally. There are no easy games in this conference, but they pulled a particularly daunting hard pair of last Saturday – a trial by fire to start their season. Despite that, they put scores on the board against both the national champions, Birmingham Lions and the full-strength Hertfordshire Tornadoes. This weekend, they face the Lions again and will be looking to prove they can put up points on any and all. Facing off against the aggressive Warriors D will similarly be a test for their offence but one they are sure to rise to.
The Birmingham Lions go into this weekend with a one-game advantage over their closest rivals in the 1A South. Reigning champions, boasting a host of GB players and a massive offseason recruitment, and will be competing on their home ground… there’s no doubt they come into the second round of fixtures as favourites, but that’s exactly the sort of situation that fires an opponent up and you just know the Lions are playing this entire series with a target on their backs – every rival wanting to be the first to claim a Lion scalp… mane?
Facing a potentially-injury-reduced Hertfordshire squad, Birmingham will be looking to utilize their clinical offence to rack up points. If Herts aren’t at full health, don’t be surprised to see the Lions rep some depth. After that, they take on underdogs Derby who will be raring to go, fired up by the thought of taking down a champion in their own home.
Tournament Two Fixtures:
Hertfordshire Tornadoes v Birmingham Lions
London Warriors v Derby Braves
London Warriors v Hertfordshire Tornadoes
Derby Braves v Birmingham Lions
These teams have had little time to prepare to meet for the second time this season, but with a fine repertoire of players, coaches and support between them, there are sure to be some very good games.