We’re half way through the #Sapphire18 season and things in Division 2B could not be more exciting. Saturday saw all four teams meet again in Peterborough and the intensity showed no signs of dropping as they battled through the chilly conditions to put on another great day of football. This weekend sees the teams travel to Staffordshire, where the Saxons will be hoping to get their first win on home field advantage.
Division 2B Tournament Three Preview
By Grace Hilbourne
The Kent Exiles came out and shocked the pundits last weekend by managing a second-half comeback to pull off the win against favourites Oxford Saints.
Despite being behind by 18 points in the second half, the rookie team showed no sign of nerves as they managed to string together a series of successful drives on both sides of the ball to pull off the win.
This week will arguably be the Exiles toughest round as they face off against Oxford again and also Peterborough Royals. The Royals frustrated Kent when they met on the opening tournament and the Exiles could find themselves facing a more polished side than they met in Round One.
If Kent do manage to carry on their winning ways, they could all but wrap up the Division 2B title this weekend. This week’s key fixture again, will undoubtedly be the matchup between the Exiles and the Saints, with the result quite feasibly determining the division’s ultimate winners.
The Oxford Saints will be wounded from their last-minute loss to Kent. Their first half display was virtually flawless and if they can bring that performance to Staffordshire, they will get their Sapphire title campaign moving back in the right direction.
Revenge will be on the cards and the Oxford defence will be looking to be disruptive as possible to stop Kent in their tracks. Similarly, they will be looking to continue their strong running game to rack up the points over both their opponents on the day.
Before they play Kent, they kick off against the Staffordshire Saxons who did not let Oxford have it all their own way when they met in round one. Saxons managed to put points on the board against the Saints and will be looking to try and do more of the same.
The Peterborough Royals pulled through on the weekend in a close match up against the Saxons. Their first win of the season will give them momentum going into the next round where they will meet the Staffordshire side again.
However, they will have to battle hard to prove that it wasn’t just home field advantage that gave them the win. Expect this match up to be key this week at the other end of the table. In Round One, they were the first to put points on the board against the Exiles. Tough running plays caused problems for the Kent defence, so look for Peterborough to take a similar approach when it comes to that rematch. Kent will still be the favourites for this, but Peterborough could very easily become the dark horse to take the surprise win.
The Staffordshire Saxons will be pleased to finally not have to make the long trip down south this Saturday. Their performance against Peterborough last weekend was easily their strongest of the tournament and it’s encouraging seeing the Saxons offence clicking and putting points on the board.
They produced several long running touchdowns and expect that running threat to be ever apparent on their home turf. Their first match on Saturday against Oxford will be a tough one, but they will be looking to show how they have improved over this season despite their low numbers. The final game of the day will be the biggest one of their season. Having only lost to Peterborough by four points in Round Two, this will be their best chance of the Sapphire tournament to get their first win.
It’s set to be another day of tough competition as we enter Round Three in Division 2B. There are going to be hotly contested games at both ends of the table and expect for there to be a couple of surprise results come the end of the day. This tournament is set to be the most decisive one yet and, if it’s anything like the action we’ve seen in the last two rounds, the teams aren’t going to disappoint with their performances.
2B National Tournament Three Fixtures | Staffordshire
- Oxford Saints v Staffordshire Saxons
- Peterborough Royals v Kent Exiles
- Staffordshire Saxons v Peterborough Royals
- Kent Exiles v Oxford Saints