Under 17 | Week Four Review

Three tourneys this past weekend, and as is becoming the norm perhaps, we saw a particular team find their form and go undefeated at each one. The surprise however, might be which team dominated each of the tourneys!

Central

The much talked-about Birmingham Lions finally kicked off their season on Saturday. Coming into the season with one of the largest rosters in the league and following a strong performance in 2016, the Lions were looking to get their year off to a fast start – and certainly succeeded in doing so!

Three confident performances from the Lions saw them go undefeated on the day, including a nice 20-6 win over the previously table-topping Black Country Vipers – who’d raced out to lead in the conference following a strong opening tourney.

In fact, it ended up being a disappointing day for the Vipers all around. Compared to taking three scalps in their opening tourney, the Vipers’ only victory this weekend came against fellow newcomers to the league, the Etone Jaguars.

As it was, the Jaguars will be disappointed with the results from a particularly tough tournament – Tamworth and Birmingham’s performances have immediately highlighted them as top contenders in this conference – both sides shutting out the Jaguars, and the Tamworth Phoenix posting a second shut out of the day in a narrow 6-0 victory over the Vipers. This win particularly stands out as the Phoenix had to bounce back from a rough loss to the Lions in the opening round of the tourney and showed great spirit coming back from the 41-13 thumping to win their next two fixtures.

Results 20/05/17
  • Birmingham Lions 35-0 Etone Jaguars
  • Birmingham Lions 41-13 Tamworth Phoenix
  • Birmingham Lions 20-6 Black Country Vipers
  • Etone Jaguars 0-46 Tamworth Phoenix
  • Etone Jaguars 6-25 Black Country Vipers
  • Tamworth Phoenix 6-0 Black Country Vipers

 

London

With the London Warriors coming into their home tournament off the back of a strong, but frustrating, opening tournament at the London Blitz, expectations were that the London side would be favourites to take away three wins on their home turf.

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Photography (c) Nate Wilson

However, the new arrivals to the conference, the Kent Exiles Rebels, were coming into 2017 off the back of an undefeated regular season campaign and immediately made their impact on the conference in a narrow win over the Warriors in the opening fixture: edging out the hosts 8-7 following a touchdown from Bolaji Adewale and a safety from Sean Lewis. It was the beginning of a very strong day from the Rebels, while disappointingly the Warriors’ tournament would go in the opposite direction.

Both sides made fairly short work of the rookie Cobham Cougars White roster, though it wasn’t an entirely unsuccessful day for the Cougars who came oh-so-close to picking up their first win of the year in a 28-28 tie against the Wembley Stallions.

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Photography (c) Nate Wilson

However, where the Warriors and Exiles’ days truly differed were in their fixtures against said Stallions, where the Rebels romped to a comfortable victory, while the Warriors were surprised by Wembley’s resilience and succumbed to a 19-31 loss, leaving the Warriors at 3-3 following the day and well off the pace in the conference after their second tournament. Perhaps their small roster size coming into the season is beginning to take its toll, as the inevitable attrition of injuries and absences slows the Warriors’ fast start to the year? Either way, the win represent a coup for the Stallions who’d had a shaky start to their year.

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Results 20/05/17
  • London Warriors 7-8 Kent Exiles Rebels
  • London Warriors 32-12 Cobham Cougars White
  • London Warriors 19-31 Wembley Stallions
  • Kent Exiles Rebels 43-0 Cobham Cougars White
  • Kent Exiles Rebels 38-6 Wembley Stallions
  • Cobham Cougars White 28-28 Wembley Stallions

 

South

In the South, the Berkshire Renegades were hoping to turn around their iffy start to the season with a strong performance in their home tournament. However, it was always going to be a big ask for the club, with visits from two of the top teams in the conference coming to visit – the Solent Academy Seahawks and the ‘veteran’ Cobham Cougars Blue squad who’d travelled all the way to the Britbowl final last year. The Blues opened their day in style, thumping a #50Burger on the Berkshire side, however the Renegades stiffened their defence from that point onwards – taking the first victory of the year against a Sussex Thunder side entering their first tournament of the season.

For the Thunder it was a tough opening to their campaign, playing against some very good squads, but the Sussex side impressed with resilience on defence – holding even the vaunted Cougars and Seahawks offences to less than 30 points. They will, however, want to find ways to start putting up more points of their own as the season progresses, as their offence went scoreless through two of their three fixtures. A spark on offence however and the Thunder could be right back in this conference with three tourneys still ahead of them!

The clash of the day however was surely the Cougars and Seahawks going head to head in the second fixture of the day for each of the teams. Both sides had taken good victories away from their opening games, and the Seahawks’ only loss in their opening tournament had come by a single point against a tough Buckinghamshire Wolves side. It was a back and forth game, with the Seahawks D doing a great job of containing the previously free-scoring Cougars offence, but in the end the Blues emerged on top – 20-13 victors and completing their second straight tourney without a loss!

Results 20/05/17
  • Berkshire Renegades 6 v 55 Cobham Cougars Blue
  • Berkshire Renegades 20 v 12 Sussex Thunder
  • Berkshire Renegades 6 v 19 Solent Seahawks
  • Cobham Cougars Blue 29-2 Sussex Thunder
  • Cobham Cougars Blue 20-13 Solent Seahawks
  • Sussex Thunder 0-24 Solent Seahawks
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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