U17 | Week Ten Preview

It’s crunch time in the Under 17s game as we see four tourneys take place this weekend that have the potential to seal the deal on a number of conferences and conference crowns!

Of the sixteen teams taking part this weekend, thirteen complete their seasons this Saturday meaning many postseason berths will be set in stone when the dust settles!

Central

The rookie Black Country Vipers host the highly competitive Central conference this weekend. With so little separating three of the top four teams in this conference, this is the last chance for the Vipers to snag a possible postseason berth – either a locked in trip to plate in the #2 spot, or a risky #3 seat that might just see them sneak into the plate.

It’s going to be tough sledding for the Vipers however, as they play host to the three teams above them in the conference and each programme will be fighting hard this Saturday to put themselves in the best possible position for postseason balling.

The Vipers opened their account in competitive football in impressive fashion back in their opening tourney, picking up three wins, but have struggled to live up to this opening day form in their fixtures since – coming away from each of their subsequent tournaments with just a single win (and a tie).

The Birmingham Lions have been the Vipers’ nemesis so far this season, besting the Black Country squad in both previous meetings. Undefeated on the year so far, the Lions have a clear cushion above the rest of the conference at present, but looked vulnerable in their last tournament – winning two of their fixtures by just a handful of points. With half their fixtures still ahead of them, their position atop the conference is far from unassailable – expect their local rivals, the Bulls and Phoenix, to have both firmly placed targets on the Lions’ backs coming into this weekend’s games.

The Phoenix have impressed so far this season, coming closer than any others to toppling the Lions – missing out by only a single point last time they met and will be desperate to go one step further this Saturday – their last chance to catch up on the Lions and hold off a late challenge from the Bulls. At 6-2-1 on the season so far, they need three wins as a minimum to guarantee some form of postseason balling.

Of course, don’t discount the Bulls either – the 2016 champs will be disappointed with two 2-1 tournament outings so far this year. They’ll be gunning for vengeance against both the Vipers and Phoenix who edged them out in their previous two meetings, and meet the Lions for the first time in Week Ten. Another 2-1 outing wouldn’t be season-ending, but it’ll certainly make things tough going into their final fixtures – as such they join their rivals in the camp of needing nothing short of three wins from their clashes.

This should be an absolutely cracking tournament!

08/07/2017 Fixtures
  • Black Country Vipers v Birmingham Bulls
  • Black Country Vipers v Birmingham Lions
  • Black Country Vipers v Tamworth Phoenix
  • Birmingham Bulls v Birmingham Lions
  • Birmingham Bulls v Tamworth Phoenix
  • Birmingham Lions v Tamworth Phoenix

North

The conference crown may have already been locked up by the Titans South, but there’s still crucial fixtures remaining in the North’s final tourney of ¬†the regular season!

While the one-win Titans North can’t make it to any form of playoffs, the hosts of this weekend’s fixtures can still play upsetters, along with the similarly one-win Romans.

The Northern Manchester squad have shown clear development through the season, even if it’s not been reflected just yet in the W column. In their last tourney they came within two points of the second-place Tornados and will look to go one better this weekend – if they can come into the fixtures with a healthy roster and the home crowd behind them? They’re very capable of taking three wins away from the day and making the race between Chorley and Burnley for the remaining postseason spot a messy one!

Indeed, that’s surely got to be the fixture of the tournament, as nothing less than three wins from the day will see Chorley competing in the postseason! With two losses on the season so far against the Tornados, they’ll not only need to defeat Burnley at this third time of asking, but also be reliant on help from the Romans and Titans if they want to snatch a #2 seat. Seven wins in a #3 spot isn’t likely to cut the mustard for one of the few plate spots reserved for third-placers.

A single win for Burnley is enough to lock in some postseason action, but you just know that in a tournament where the shadow of the Southern Titans is no longer hanging over them? The Tornados will be happy with nothing less than perfection from the day. Nine wins and a tie on the year is their best hope of sneaking into the Britbowl tournament and an opportunity for vengeance against the Titans in the postseason!

08/07/2017 fixtures:

  • Manchester Titans North v Chorley Buccaneers
  • Manchester Titans North v Chester Romans
  • Manchester Titans North v Burnley Tornados
  • Chorley Buccaneers v Chester Romans
  • Chorley Buccaneers v Burnley Tornados
  • Chester Romans v Burnley Tornados

South

The stakes are no less in the South, as even though there’ll be another tournament yet to play out on the year, and the crown’s already been snagged by the class of the conference – the Cobham Cougars (Blue) – hosts, the Solent Seahawks, will see this as their last opportunity to put themselves in the best possible position to see some postseason balling.

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As is the trend this weekend, odds are nothing less than a perfect 3-0 day in front of the home crowd will be enough for the Seahawks. While they’ll need help from one of their rivals later this month if they want to displace the Wolves in the #2 seat, nine wins and a tie on the year should mean that even in third place they’ll qualify for a plate berth and a shot at some silverware – well deserved as they’ve proven themselves the only team to hold the free-scoring Cougars to a tie this season.

Of course the visiting Swindon Storm are going to be no less desperate for wins. Only half way through their season, a strong outing in their final two tournaments would mean they’re still capable of competing for a postseason slot – they performed well in their home tournament a fortnight ago, taking two wins from the day so will head into this weekend’s fixtures with some confidence and good momentum – they’re familiar with the Farnham Knights who managed only a safety against the Storm when last these two met, and having shown clear improvement between their first and second tourneys, Swindon will be looking for vengeance against the Berkshire Renegades who bested them back in early June.

Neither Farnham nor Berkshire can make it into contention for any postseason action, but don’t discount either of them from causing potential problems this weekend.

Farnham have proven very hit and miss this year so far – they seemed to start the season with some great potential, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. While that spark’s been missing in their recent outings, if they can reignite that explosiveness on offence they can certainly compete this Saturday.

Similarly, Berkshire should take some confidence from the fact they’ve already beaten Swindon once this year, an off-form Farnham are looking vulnerable, and indeed they even took the Seahawks to the ropes when the two teams last met – holding the Solent Academy to a much narrower victory than many expected.

08/07/2017 Fixtures:
  • Solent Seahawks v Swindon Storm
  • Solent Seahawks v Farnham Knights
  • Solent Seahawks v Berkshire Renegades
  • Swindon Storm v Farnham Knights
  • Swindon Storm v Berkshire Renegades
  • Farnham Knights v Berkshire Renegades

London

Two things are certain for this tournament. Win or lose the Kent Exiles Rebels have already locked in some form of postseason balling… And the London Warriors will be watching the results roll in from this tournament’s fixtures like hawks!

At 8-4 on the year, following a strong second half of the season, the Warriors currently sit at #2 in the conference… but in this final London conference tournament there’s still the possibility of their long-time rivals the London Blitz ousting the Warriors from their postseason berth.

Warriors hold the head to head over both Hertfordshire and London Blitz, meaning nothing less than a perfect day from the Blitz will see them guaranteed a postseason – a big ask considering the dominant form the Rebels have displayed so far this year!

Kent took the Blitz to task in their last meeting, romping a 38 to zip shut out on a London squad that were weary from a tough slog against the Warriors earlier that day. Already locked into the playoffs in some form, might the Exiles rest up some starters coming into this tourney and give Blitz a route through to the postseason?

And don’t discount the Cheetahs either! Their route to the postseason is still¬†theoretically viable if they’re perfect this weekend, and though they’ll need results in other conferences to go their way to make it into the postseason with a third place spot, be certain that they’ll do the best they can to rediscover their early season form and place themselves in the best possible position to see some postseason action with a 8-4 record!

No chance of playoffs for the Stallions, but that doesn’t mean they’re not liable to ball out this weekend – they’ve proven their mettle already this year with a shock win over the Warriors earlier this season, and ironically perhaps they’re quite capable of being the Warriors’ very best friends on Saturday if they pull off some underdog wins – snatching a win against the Blitz would lock the Warriors into the playoffs!

08/07/2017 Fixtures:
  • Wembley Stallions v Kent Exiles Rebels
  • Wembley Stallions v Hertfordshire Cheetahs
  • Wembley Stallions v London Blitz
  • Kent Exiles Rebels v Hertfordshire Cheetahs
  • Kent Exiles Rebels v London Blitz
  • Hertfordshire Cheetahs v London Blitz
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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