With just a week to go until the regular season ends and the playoffs begins, there were very few postseason ramifications to catch the eye before week twelve. For the most part this week, we instead bring you the most engaging story lines as we head towards the knockout stages of the 2015 BUCS season.
1. Birmingham may not be the picture of perfection they’ve led everyone to believe they are
Birmingham’s social media elves (Eds: Those blighters are getting everywhere these days!) may have attempted to play down criticism of their team’s lacklustre performance at Kingston on Sunday by bemoaning poor field conditions, but their opponents have provided us with enough evidence to suggest that their pitch was more than playable (see above). From the image, in fact, it could be argued that Kingston’s field – sullied only by the standard turned-up turf inside the hash marks – was actually one of the better fields when compared to the meagre offering of most grass-based BUCS stomping grounds.
So what happened to Brum? They certainly haven’t been the dominant offensive force in the Prem this year – they’ve scored the equivalent of three touchdowns less than Stirling who many might argue have had the more competitive premiership to fight through – but then again, the Lions have always been renowned more for their work on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve conceded 47 points fewer than anyone in the top tier, and it should be business as usual for the tried and tested midlands giants come playoff time. The defense can’t keep bailing the offense out, though, that’s for sure…
2. Slowly but surely, the Durham Saints are becoming an established BUCSball force and making a B-line at the championship game
Back-to-back victories against a Loughborough side who are starting to look like the Stoke of the top tier – defensively stable but lacking in any real offensive threat – likely turned few heads. The nation’s lack of interest in their victory, however, speaks as much to Durham’s now widely accepted place in the Uniball elite as it does to their ever-lasting role as the team you love to hate. Behind a veteran wide receiver core comprised of Jake Lawrence and Simon Carey – only one of whom hails from across the pond we’ll have you know! – this team is putting itself in very firm contention for the championship this season.
3. From the pits of despair, the Sheffield Sabres are actually giving a good fist of it in the division one wildcard race
We were going to say that the wilcard picture in the second tier has been made a little clearer by this weekend’s results – but that would be an unemphatic statement at best. Northumbria may be out of contention with their loss to Glasgow, but Kent take their place courtesy of their narrow victory over Cambridge and a handful of other hopefuls are still in the hunt with a week to go (See our unofficial playoff article for more details on who’s still in the running and how they can clinch a berth).
If there’s one story which should grab this article’s headlines at least, it’s that Sheffield are back in the hunt. Having been humiliated by Hull in week ten, the Sabres were reeling as they faced the very real prospect of not taking part in the postseason. Since then, they have split the season with Leeds Beckett with a 28-12 victory in week eleven and comfortably dispatched Huddersfield. What a comeback it would be should the Sabres bury the ghosts of their recent past and go back to the Prem at the first time of asking…
4. The second tier, bar some last minute dramatics, is done and dusted
With Coventry seeing off the loudmouths of the bottom tier in the Northampton Nemesis on Sunday, the final chapter of the third tier regular season has all but been written. The Jets simply need to beat DMU in their midweek clash and not lose to Lincoln by 35 or more in the final weekend to make sure they reach the postseason win-and-in game. Considering the fact that the Jets would basically have to concede three times as many points against the Colonials as they have conceded in six games so far, it’s safe to say that Lincoln would need little short of a miracle to reach the big dance. Portsmouth, meanwhile, just need to re-arrange their postponed fixture with BNU to clinch their berth. Knowing the moral, ethical and logistical minefield that is rearranging university sport fixtures, we’re not coming to any conclusions on the matter just yet…