This weekend is the cross-conference finals tournament for Division 2A hosting all teams from the North and South at Sandwell.
Division 2A Finals Preview
By Libby Davoren
Unfortunately due to the beast from the east ALL of the Sapphire Series fixtures for the last round were voided. With teams unable to host or travel and no time before the finals to reschedule, BAFA made the executive decision to award all teams 0-0 ties for the fixtures. This left Division 2A with the following standings:
|The North||Record||The South||Record|
|1st||Sandwell Steelers||2-1-3||1st||Portsmouth Dreadnoughts||4-0-2|
|2nd||Chester Romans||2-1-3||2nd||Wembley Stallions||2-2-2|
|3rd||Teesside Steelers||1-3-2||3rd||Cardiff Valkyries||0-4-2|
NB Sandwell took 1st place according to tie breaker results based on average points conceded over the season compared to Chester. (13.25 vs 19.75)
|Wildcard||Game 1||Chester Romans vs Cardiff Valkyries|
|Game 2||Wembley Stallions vs Teesside Steelers|
|Semi-Finals||Game 3||Portsmouth Dreadnoughts vs Winner of Game 1|
|Game 4||Sandwell Steelers vs Winner of Game 2|
|Placement||Game 5||Loser of Game 1 vs Loser of Game 2||5th and 6th|
|Game 6||Loser of Game 3 vs Loser of Game 4||3rd and 4th|
|Finals||Game 7||Winner of Game 3 vs Winner of Game 4||1st and 2nd|
The top seeds from both Conferences (Portsmouth and Sandwell) have bypassed the wildcard round and advanced straight to the semi-finals. The finals structure still allows any team to theoretically win the Division however the lower seeded teams will have the disadvantage of having to play up to three games over the day in order to do so…
- Chester Romans vs Cardiff Valkyries
Chester and Cardiff faced each other in round two of the Series with the game ending much closer than was anticipated. Chester just edging the lead 29-24 over the Valkyries. The game was back and forth with teams taking turns for TD’s. However what ensured Chester the victory in this one was their defensive unit racking up five safeties over the course of the game.
Cardiff did a good job of containing Chester’s passing game. If their defence can hold off the Romans running backs and their offence can absorb the pressure, the Valkyries could just take their very first win of the Series in this game. It’s a wildcard round after all, anything can happen!
- Wembley Stallions vs Teesside Steelers
Wembley and Teesside have yet to face each other so far in the Series. These teams (we think) have never faced each other so far in their history so this will be an interesting game. With both these teams taking their respective Conference Titles in #Sapphire17 we reckon this game will go right down to the wire.
- Portsmouth Dreadnoughts vs ? (Chester or Cardiff)
Portsmouth are dominating this year in the Division having beaten every team they’ve played against so far. That includes racking up 30+ points on both their possible opponents in previous fixtures! Whilst all teams have been improving over the Series, we think it’s fair to say Portsmouth are looking very likely to make it all the way to the finals.
- Sandwell Steelers vs ? (Teesside or Wembley)
Sandwell haven’t had as smooth a ride as Portsmouth to the top of their Conference. Round one started rocky with their games ending on a tie with Chester and a loss to Teesside. However, Sandwell dominated in the last round with two very solid wins, including one 27-12 win against possible opponent Wembley. It’s also notable that Sandwell have NEVER beaten Teesside… not in 5’s and not in 7’s. Although with the Sandwell offence at the top of their game, maybe this is their year?
Whilst regular season has meant teams with the best standings have the advantage, the structure still allows for any team to take the title so it really is anyone’s game. Saying that though we would put our money on the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts making an appearance in the finals!