#U17 | Week Six Preview

Two Tourneys this weekend, but boy should they include some cracking clashes as we see top contenders from the Central and South conferences go head to head!

Central

Tamworth Phoenix play hosts and after a fairly successful opening tournament that saw them take away two wins, but fall short against a powerful looking Birmingham Lions? They’ll be gunning to turn things around on the Lions now they’re the ones with the home crowd on their side.

Even so, falling to a 41-13 defeat back in Week Four, Tamworth will need to need to have figured how to shut down the Lions’ unstoppable looking offence if they want to go perfect in their home tournament. The Birmingham offence notched up over 100 points in their first tournament, and while the Phoenix were the only team to place multiple scores on them? They’ll come into this tournament feeling fairly confident of retaining their spot atop the conference going into the second half of their season.

Youth & Juniors Adjusted Training
via BirminghamLions.co.uk

Another side looking for redemption against the Lions, but also the Phoenix, are the Black Country Vipers. They opened their year with a surprise perfect tourney, defeating the previous conference champs, the Birmingham Bulls, in Week One. However, they emerged from their second tourney with only a single win, against the young Etone Jaguars programme, and so with two losses on the year so far will be looking at this weekend’s fixtures as an opportunity to gain ground on the front runners in their conference – wins against the Lions or Tamworth giving the Vipers a great shot at a playoff berth if they can rediscover the offensive spark they showed in Week One.

Finally, it was a tough opening tournament for the Sandwell Steelers way back in Week Two, with three losses from three, including a nailbiting shootout defeat to the Jags. They proved they can move the ball well at times, and so they’ll hope to have used the past few bye weeks to improve the consistency of their offence – they’ll need every point they can muster to poach a win from a tournament where they’ll face the sides currently sat in the top three spots in their conference!

10/06/2017 Fixtures:
  • Tamworth Phoenix v Birmingham Lions
  • Tamworth Phoenix v Sandwell Steelers
  • Tamworth Phoenix v Black Country Vipers
  • Birmingham Lions v Sandwell Steelers
  • Birmingham Lions v Black Country Vipers
  • Sandwell Steelers v Black Country Vipers

 

South

The current front runners in the south, the Cobham Cougars Blue, made it all the way to the Britbowl final last year – and look every bit set to repeat that feat if they maintain the form they’ve shown so far this season. Averaging nearly 40 points per game through their first six fixtures, they’ll still be somewhat wary coming into this weekend’s tournament, as they prepare to once again face one of the only teams that’s shown the ability to slow them down: the Solent Academy Seahawks.

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Every game from here on in is close to a must-win for the Seahawks if they have postseason aspirations, as based on the playoff formats we shared earlier this week, only two of seven third place teams will be awarded a postseason berth, so it’ll be a gamble for the Seahawks to drop to three losses on the year, considering the strong seasons the Cougars and Buckinghamshire Wolves are having. This makes the second clash of the year between the Seahawks and Cougars a particularly crucial one, as while a loss may see the Seahawks struggle for a third place berth, a win puts them in a much strong position to steal one of the two spots, or potentially only one slip-up from the Wolves or Cougars away from a #2 spot.

Image result for cobham cougars youth
via https://www.instagram.com/kingstoncougars/

Lest we forget however, there are more than two teams at this tourney! The Farnham Knights will be looking to much improve on their Week Two outing where they took just a single win from their home fixtures. They’ve already faced the top two teams in the conference and had a good few training weeks to prepare to turn things around on the Cougars in their second meeting – certainly their 48-6 win over the Bedfordshire Blackhawks in that tournament shows the Knights don’t lack for firepower once they build up momentum!

In fact, it’s the Blackhawks that have the most ground to make up this Saturday. Though they took a win over the Renegades in Week One, their second tournament featured three heavy losses. Still, with more than a month to rebuild and develop their playbook, will we see a revitalised Bedfordshire side kick off the second half of their season with some shock upset wins this weekend?

10/06/2017 Fixtures:
  • Cobham Cougars Blue v Farnham Knights
  • Cobham Cougars Blue v Solent Seahawks
  • Cobham Cougars Blue v Bedfordshire Blackhawks
  • Farnham Knights v Solent Seahawks
  • Farnham Knights v Bedfordshire Blackhawks
  • Solent Seahawks v Bedfordshire Blackhawks
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Nick

Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1