It’s going to be a busy busy day in Derby this Saturday with a packed slate of cross-conference games getting underway!
Division One Cross-Conference Tournament Preview
Eight teams descend on Derby this weekend in a crucial round of fixtures. The Cross-Conference round is our only chance to see how the two sides of Sapphire’s divide compare ahead of the season-closing National Finals tournament.
Traditionally dominated by the South, last year the Southern sides went 8-0 in #Sapphire17’s East/West tourneys… But might 2018 be the North’s chance to shine?
It’s certainly looking like there are chinks to be found in the Souths’ armour this year – the Lions are still undefeated, but have only one shutout on the season so far; the Tornadoes have been stricken by injuries and appear vulnerable; and the Warriors and Braves will be fairly unfamiliar with their upcoming opponents – London and Derby squaring off against the two Scottish teams from the north last season, but will face the Chargers and Titans respectively this Saturday.
Indeed, if there’s one team’s progress to track through this tournament, it’s surely the Leeds Chargers.
The Chargers have been dominant in the North so far this season, with the #1 offence and defence in the entirety of #Sapphire18. Quarterback Lucy Peaty has been putting together Series MVP campaign so far this season and has the opportunity to lead the Chargers to a couple of statement wins if they can rise to the level this weekend.
They open the day against the London Warriors, in what we believe might be the first meeting between the two sides (?). London have impressed so far this series, establishing themselves as clear contenders in the South behind a dominant offensive line. Expect a hard-hitting affair right out of the gate on Saturday!
At the same time, we’ll see some key matchups between the Tornadoes and the Wolves, and the Titans and Braves, as each team looks to play catch up in their respective conferences.
On last year’s form, Herts would have been strong favourites over the Scots, but the Tornadoes have been plagued with injuries so far this season so we should see a very competitive showdown.
Titans versus Braves should be a real humdinger of a game – Derby are a better side than their zero wins on the year so far would imply, and have been competitive in every outing thanks to a staunch defence. Frustratingly, they were forced out of their last tourney slightly early due to mounting injuries on the line, so it’ll be interesting to see if they’ve recovered enough strength in the trenches to take on the Titans, who’ve only lost a single fixture so far this season.
And finally for the first round of fixtures, we see perhaps the most notable mismatch of the day, as the rampant reigning National Champs take on an East Kilbride Pirates team that’s yet to win a seven-a-side Sapphire fixture. While it’s tough to see anything but a Lions win here, those who understand Sapphire will know both sides will look to this fixture as a learning opportunity – expect the Lions to rep some of their significant depth, while the Pirates pick up pointers from the most successful women’s team in Britball. Despite sitting at 0-4, the Pirates have been all smiles so far this series and are definitely capable of giving the Lions rookies something of a headache, particularly in the trenches.
It’s the second half of the slate where things get particularly spicy – and the headliner of the day is surely the repeat of last years Championship game as the Chargers and Lions square off once again.
If the Chargers manage to come out of their tilt against the Warriors unscathed, they should come into this matchup with great momentum and this should be an epic showdown featuring much of the top talent Women’s Britball has on offer.
Alongside this, we’ll see repeats of other key postseason matchups. Derby and Edinburgh face off for the first time since the Wolves upset the stakes to earn the fifth national ranking spot in Leeds last year, while the Titans will be out for revenge against a Tornadoes side that bested them on both meetings between the two teams last season.
Lastly, we’ll finally get to see a showdown between the two teams that didn’t travel to the National Finals last season as the Warriors and Pirates square off. Given the Warriors’ fine form this season it could be another long day in the office for the Pirates, but again those in attendance should look for some great showdowns in along the line of scrimmage as there’ll be some elite ballers smashing into one another each and every snap during this mmatchup
1A Tournament Three | Cross-Conference | Derby
- London Warriors v Leeds Chargers
- Manchester Titans v Derby Braves
- Edinburgh Wolves v Hertfordshire Tornadoes
- Birmingham Lions v East Kilbride Pirates
- East Kilbride Pirates v London Warriors
- Derby Brave v Edinburgh Wolves
- Leeds Chargers v Birmingham Lions
- Hertfordshire Tornadoes v Manchester Titans