The south are also partaking in their first round of cross-division games. Here’s what we’re looking forward to this coming weekend!
The Main Event
London Rebels vs Northants Titans Blue
The Rebels come into this game-day in much better form after picking up 2 wins during game-week 2. The Titans Blue on the other hand suffered their first loss of the year against the Cardiff Hurricanes. Not that there’s any shame in that, but it puts the Titans in a slightly precarious position, because this is where things get interesting.
The Titans suddenly have the Phantoms breathing down their necks. The Phantoms have a nasty habit of playing up to their opposition, and could pick up a sneaky win against an SEC side. To keep distance between them, the Titans Blue might want to think about throwing everything at the Rebels in an effort to upset the balance. The Rebels have been conceding a lot of points this year. Sure, Calvin Tarlton looks as excellent as ever at QB, but he’s had to be great to keep his side hanging around the championship chase. The Titans Blue are certainly capable, they’ve got talented players throughout their roster, and they could catch the Rebels cold. If we were betting men, we’d have the Rebels in a walkover, but it isn’t without the realms of possibility for the Titans Blue to pull out a win out of nowhere.
We’re hearing that the Titans might be a little light on numbers this week. Realistically they should be able to call up players from their two development sides, but we’re not sure that’s going to happen. The remaining Titans will need to go in all guns blazing in hopes of getting a positive result.
Victoria Park Panthers vs Northants Phantoms
As mentioned, the Phantoms are right behind the Titans Blue in the standings, and could threaten to overtake them if the Titans Blue have one wobbly game-day. The Victoria Park Panthers are in an arguably stronger position, but can’t afford any banana skins from now until the end of the year. With both sides needing a win to keep their championship aspirations alive, we can’t wait to see how these two teams square off!
Reading Lions vs Coventry Cougars
The Lions and Cougars both kick-started their seasons with wins over their nearest rivals in their respective divisions, but both sides could really be doing with another few wins to make their Premier Division status a little more safe. The Lions are a tall, well drilled team with very good fundamentals, whereas the Cougars rely more on speed. The Cougars have had some issues chasing the deep ball in their opening weekends of action, and we reckon getting their talented playmakers in space would serve them a lot better in this contest. The Lions should have the beating of the Cougars, but the Coventry side are capable of upsetting any team on their day.
Relegation Watch – Chichester Sharks, Birmingham Lions, Coventry Cougars and Reading Lions
Chichester Sharks vs Birmingham Lions
With both teams coming into the weekend winless, it’s all-or-nothing time. The Lions had a stronger lineup at game-week 2, but they figure to get even better this coming week. They’re the hosting team, and they might have a few tricks up their sleeve if they can add some recruits or bring back some veterans. That’s all wild speculation, because for now the Lions look uncoordinated. While the Sharks are winless, that’s a stark contrast to how Neil Henderson prepares his side. The Sharks are in, for our money, the toughest division in football, and their record shows it. However, they’ll look to this game-day as an opportunity to get off the schneid and put a W in the books.
Team to Watch
The Spartans departed the SEC in the offseason to join the SWC, suiting them better geographically. They’ve lost a few players to the newly formed Leighton Steam, but they still retained a number of their talented vets, such as Sean Martin, Jeff Bond and Dan Benning. After playing each team in the SWC once, the Spartans are a somewhat disappointing 2-3, but a close game against the Phantoms which could easily have gone their way, and a strong first half against the Hurricanes would suggest that the Spartans can hang with the best of them.
They’re going to be stretched this coming week though, as the Buttonhookers, Rebels and Panthers are on their schedule. That’s cruel. How they bounce back is going to be interesting, but three good performances against arguably three of the top teams in the nation could give the Spartans a bit of a launching pad to chase down the Phantoms, and maybe even the Titans Blue.
The Northants Phantoms can show just how genuine their playoff credentials are when they take on the same schedule. Similar to the Spartans, their season wouldn’t necessarily be over with three losses, and if they prove to be competitive, they can build on these performances as they go for round 2 with the SWC. With the Titans likely weakened this week, they could gain ground on them in a hurry.
One-on-One Battles to Watch
We’ve got a very GB Silver Lions theme to our one-on-one battles this week!
Charlie Douglas vs Nathan Coles
In the first Lion-on-Lion battle, we see two veritable giants clash when the Panthers taken on the Titans Blue. Both receivers (and defenders) are tall, athletic and have plenty of range. We see them as very evenly matched in all the measurables, so it’ll be an exciting contest to watch. The Titans Blue and Panthers have had a number of great games in the past, including at the Outlaw Flag League, and we can’t wait to see how Charlie and Nathan plan on cancelling each other out!
Nick Schippers vs Joe Cotterill
The Reading Lions will need Nick to be near-perfect when they take on the Hurricanes if they’re to have any hope of upsetting the SWC leaders. The Lions looked more like themselves in game-week two, picking up a win over Chichester and a playing the London Rebels close. The Hurricanes on the other hand have been breezing through their schedule, and don’t figure to be challenged until they take on the remaining SEC teams at Coventry in June. Joe might be getting headlines for his excellent QB play, but it’s when he lines up at safety that he’s going to have even more of a telling impact in this duel, as he’ll look to prevent Nick’s offence from reaching the endzone.
Corey Bedford vs Paul Zinkus
Both the Sharks and Lions need their star players to step up in a big way when they play each other this weekend. This means more production from the shifty Shark Corey Bedford, while Paul Zinkus of the Lions will be doing everything he can to stop him. Paul will know Corey from his GB Lions experience, and know just how dangerous he can be given space. If the Lions can keep Corey quiet, they could pick up their first win of the season, but if Corey is allowed to run riot, it could be disastrous for the Lions.