By Alex McLachlan
Nottingham Caesars V Merseyside Nighthawks
By Bruin White
Merseyside, currently sitting at 1-2, will travel to Nottingham on Sunday to face off against an as-of-yet untested Caesars side who will be eager to get back on the field – their last league game being the Plate final, all and more of nine months ago.
Merseyside HC Rich Merrick says that “nothing has changed” after last week’s defeat to Highland, explaining that the Nighthawks are “still here to play football and look forward to every opportunity to do so”. This is an honest attitude which surely resonates with playmakers including RB Jacob Diaba, QB Jensen Fairhurst and star player on both sides of the ball Jake Moore, who brought in 5 receptions for 86 yards from Receiver and recorded 16.5 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and an interception whilst playing defence last week against the Highland Wildcats. These impressive ballers, amongst others, will be looking to get things done on the road this Sunday.
In the way of evening out their record, however, is HC George Lees’ Nottingham Caesars – who have had since last August to prepare for this game. The Caesars’ 2017 campaign saw them in formidable form, finishing 6-0 having conceded less than 7 points per game. LBs Rayan Amari and Bradley Martin will, no doubt, look to resume this impressive stat into 2018’s cramped schedule. Carrying out the 6 games through the 8 weeks remaining in the season will be QB Alex Stocks, in just his second-year after appearing at WR last season. His ability currently unproven, it will be interesting to find out how Stocks and his Caesars get on in their first game of the year.
Balanced forces making this game almost impossible to call, coaches around the North will have their reminders set to check the result of this one on Sunday night.
London Blitz v Cobham Cougars
By Jack Stodel
This Sunday’s match up between the Blitz and the Cougars has the potential to be a thriller and is definitely one to watch. The two Britbowl winners face off in the South, with the former being the reigning national champions at the Junior level and the latter at Youth.
The Blitz have looked dominant thus far, with convincing wins over the London Warriors and the Sussex Thunder, who have since folded. The Blitz’s offense got off to a shaky start against the Warriors. Despite the score-line, the game was a predominantly defensive performance, with the offense only scoring a single touchdown the entire day, whilst on the other side of the ball, they continued last seasons form and kept a clean slate.
Look for a trio of GB wide receivers in Malachi Marquis-Adams, Leonardo Sophoclis and Nathan Oti as well as a range of GB cornerbacks and RB Lennox Osei-Biney to bring a storm over Surrey this weekend.
Upon entering the league, Cobham seemed to have struggled. They opened their season with a loss against the London Warriors, however they cemented their place in their last game, beating the newly formed Thames Valley Tigers 66-0. Last years’ Britbowl MVP Khaled Alayyan seems to have adapted well to the Junior league and star GB Wide Receiver Louis Hall appears to keep hauling in touchdowns for fun.
Sunday will be an interesting test of what happens when two high calibre teams face off against each other. With lots of GB talent on show, there could end up being points galore.
East Kilbride Pirates vs Highland Wildcats
By Alex McLachlan
Up in Scotland this week the East Kilbride Pirates face their rivals, the Highland Wildcats, for their first of three meetings between the clubs this season.
The Pirates started their season off hot, defeating the Birmingham Lions (who at the time were 3rd placed on our Power Rankings) 38-12 in a display of dominance in all three phases of the game.
The Pirates’ offence relies heavily on the arm of All-DC QB Sam Montgomerie. Despite last season’s excellence, Montgomerie has not rested on his laurels, and according to Coach Matthew Davies the young gunslinger has worked hard in the offseason and only gotten better. Pairing this with a wide receiver corps which is arguably the team’s best unit, boasting playmakers in the form of Struan Bailey and Fraser McDonald, gives EKP an aerial attack which is to be feared. Indeed, Wildcats Head Coach James Hudson agrees that ‘slowing down their passing game will be key’ for Highland to come out on top.
The Pirates are no slouch on defence, however. In fact, they boasted arguably the best defence in the nation in 2017 (if not statistically, then take the word of someone who played against them: they were really, REALLY good). It seems that this level hasn’t dropped in 2018 either, with EKP shutting out the Lions in the first half, despite their abundance of University talent, and only conceding after they rotated in much of their squad. Look for Ben Gallagher and Safety Callum Ferguson to be difference makers for the defence respectively, and ensure that the Wildcats have to fight for yards at every level of the pitch.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, started their season off last week with a 28-8 victory over the Merseyside Nighthawks. Whilst they are remaining tight-lipped ahead of the game, Coach Hudson believes that teamwork will be the deciding factor in defeating the Pirates. Highland have great pedigree with them, having not lost to any side other than EKP for over two years. Led by a physical line, headed by All-DC selection Ally Gibson, the Wildcats are confident in their players to get the result that eluded them last season.
Such a staunch rivalry is bound to create an instant classic, with all players giving their all fight for victory. Will this be a repeat of last year’s domination of the fixture by EKP, or with the Wildcats find their form to become Scottish champions? We will see who comes out on top soon.