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Big Bowl XII Review – The Top 10

Big Bowl gave us a lot of thrills and spills, and during our extended previews, we might have been a little wrong about some things! More specifically, our power rankings took a real hit! Today we look at the teams who finished in the top 10 in their stories, while also reflecting on our pre-tournament thoughts!

Credit: Mainz Legionaries

10 – (Not Ranked) Mainz Legionaries

The German side continued their fine form as runners up in King Bowl, finishing in the top 10 and look like a team to watch out for in the future. They were in a tough group C, accompanied by our predicted winners Kalikakou & the Baker Street Buttonhookers. It was the 27 – 20 win against the latter that shocked everyone and the Legionaries went on to only lose to the former to qualify in 2nd place. That was a far from favourable result though, as it landed the Legionaries with one of the pre-season tournament favourites, NP Flag. They’d suffer a second loss of the tournament, but were guaranteed a top 16 place.

They defeated the London Smoke (albeit, down QB Charlie Williams) and the exciting Atlantic Devils to put themselves into the top 10. However the Dutch Lions would show too much class in the placement game. The Legionaries can reflect proudly on their tournament finish, as it was much higher than anticipated

9 – (5) Dutch Lions

The Lions will be disappointed to find themselves here but still showed how strong a side they are. Qualifying 2nd in Group F behind the Armadillos, they surprisingly lost to Munich Spatzen to rule them out of the running. They would get back to winning ways, going 3-0 against Novo Mesto, Kalkakou & Mainz to keep them in the top 10.

The Dutch Lions will be looking at the teams above them wondering how they do not sit a few places higher.

8 – (NR) Wurzburg Wombats

We didn’t know much about them before the weekend, but it was their qualification from group D and win against the London Rebels in the last 16 that caught our attention. Having come off a tricky tie with Kalikakou, the Cobras came into their game against the Wombats with confidence, but the Wombats did not make the quarterfinal easy for them, and they looked to be on their way to another shock result. However Wurzberg did not have quite enough offensive power to beat a stubborn Cobra defence and finished the campaign with straight losses to Munich and the Ex-pads.

8th is an outstanding position for this young team.

London Expads – Credit: Markus Age

7 – (7) Ex-Pads

Spot on. We predicted 7th and the Ex Pads did not disappoint. Tariq Khan did what he does best and expertly executed his offence to sail through their group, dispatching two strong units on their way in the shape of Novo Mesto and the Scumbags.  It looked all good in the last 16 game as they beat the Aarhus Frogs 13-0 to set up a Quarter final against the Armadillos. After this it became a tough Sunday as they went down by a single score to Allerod and a solitary point to NP Flag. Some redemption came against the Wombats as they romped to a 31 – 13 win to secure 7th.

The Ex-pads are maybe a little unfortunate to finish 7th and could quite have easily been sitting 2 places higher.

Credit: Munich Spatzen

6 – (NR) Munich Spatzen

The Group B side Surprised everyone with some great performances throughout Big Bowl XII. In a group that held no standout winners, they comfortably sailed through with a 5-0 record, sealing them a tricky last 16 tie with the Dutch Lions. In what was one of the shocks of the tournament they came away with a narrow 4 point win to put the quarter-final teams on alert.  However that is where the fairy tale ended, as they ran Walldorf close, but fell by one point.

A win against the Wombats give them a chance for 5th place but the next team had other ideas. Munich will be more than happy with this finish and are another team to look out for down the line.

Credit: Markus Age

5 – (3) NP Flag

NP Flag and 5th place finishes – name a more iconic duo. This is probably not how NP imagined their tournament would finish, as they were confident, as were we, that they could go all the way. Especially with Mass Flag not returning for a 3-peat. Sharing a group with the mercenary Cobras meant 4 warm up games for the USA side as they strolled through Saturday conceding no points until their 8pm crowd pleasing tie against the Cobras, which was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Cobras took an early lead as Julian Holburn-White spun his way to the end zone and Richie Moore grabbed the XP to draw first blood. NP Flag responded with a game tying score and then look the lead 13 – 7.  The Cobras in the death of the game scored a huge TD by Richie Moore, after another scoring play was flagged for offensive PI. The XP was caught again by Richie Moore, however the referees felt the blitz was successful in getting the sack, meaning Richie’s efforts were for nought. The tie earned the Americans #1 spot in the group and a last 16 playoff against the Legionaries, who they would dispatch in easy fashion.

To get to the top 4, NP Flag were going to have to overcome last year’s finalists, the Copenhagen Barbarians. The Danish side showed too much resilience on defence through the excellent Silas Meyer-Juhlin. They held NP to just 13 points, and played keep-away, securing a 19-13 win. With their heads down but not out, NP went on to beat the Ex-pads by a point and Munich to retain 5th place.

Sadly we may not see NP next year in this tournament, but looking at the teams above them this may be a fair placement once again.

Credit: Markus Age

4 – (4) Walldorf Wanderers

Another perfect prediction! The 2018 schedule looked good for the Wanderers and gave them maybe one of the best chances to go all the way in their own tournament, had it not been for those pesky Cobras. It was all going so well after breezing through their group, allowing only a maximum of 7 points in any one game. They would go onto beat the Novo Mesto Knights comfortably before defeating the surprise package Spatzen by one point in the quarterfinal.

Their chances of winning their own tournament came to an end, as they fell 20-6 to the Cobras, before losing to the Armadillos 26-7 to miss out on the podium places. Walldorf came in with tremendous momentum, but will be ruing another Big Bowl were they have failed to keep the trophy at home, and will look above them at 2 teams they have beat previously.

Credit: Markus Age

3 – (1) Allerod Armadillos

The Armadillos were our strongly tipped favourites having started the year strong and looking dominant. They started their Big Bowl with a statement win over a strong Dutch Lions squad, 38 – 28, and finished top of their group as expected.

In what looked like a tough Sunday for the Armadillos, they had a slight scare against the Atlantic Devils, winning by only 7 points, before overcoming the difficult Ex-Pads by 6. It was a the semi final against their Danish compatriots that would shock the tournament as the Barbarians would edge out the favourites by 1 point to proceed to their 2nd final in 2 years and leave the bewildered Allerod facing a 3rd/4th place finish for the 2nd year running.

Another year, another Big Bowl were the Champions trophy was so close but just out of reach. Armadillos will feel 2018 was the year they should have taken this with no Mass Flag but it was not to be.

Big Bowl XII final Copenhagen Barbarians v Corbras – Credit: Markus Age

2 – (8) Cobras

Highest climber and exceeded expectations, the scratch squad of Danish and British players rode their lack of chemistry, but talent laden squad, all the way to the final.  Their original group line-up looked like possibly the group of death, however that changed when the Dutch Lions managed to register, taking all the talent out of the Hague Hyenas, leaving them and NP Flag as odds on favourites to take the group. It was their match up in the last round of games on day 1 that gathered a big crowd and ended up one of the games of the tournament. A 13-13 result would leave the Cobra’s in 2nd place via points difference, which usually meant a tougher route on Day 2, but this year saw 1st place finish look like the tougher draw.

The Cobras dispatched Kalikakou and the Wombats but were en-route to a quarter final with the Wanderers. The almost all-Danish defence worked well as a unit, but British blitzer Phil Watson was the hero, as he made life difficult for Benjamin Klever, forcing him into an errant pick 6 and meant the Cobra offence just had to ensure they played mistake free.

For a mix of players from different countries, the Cobras should be delighted with reaching the final. They had exceptional players on both sides of the ball, but might feel that winning the whole tournament was definitely doable given how the final went.

Big Bowl Final Copenhagen Barbarians v Cobras – Credit: Markus Age

1 – (2) Copenhagen Barbarians

We were not far away with last years finalists, and they went one better by taking the title this time! Did we really think they could win or come 2nd? Not really, we gave them the respect of being finalists last year. But in all honesty, we expected the Armadillos here. However, you can’t take anything away from what was one of the most impressive runs in recent memory.

Qualifying 5-0 from an easy group by their standard, they only conceded 7 points to what would be their toughest opponents in the London Rebels.  They had no complications against their 1st last 16 teams in the London Smoke. It was maybe a bit of an eye opener for the Smoke, but missing your starting QB against the Barbarians is no easy task. The big test would come against NP Flag in the Quarter final and a 7 point win took them back to familiar ground. Having been beaten by Allerod in the Danish domestic league and Sportmundo tournament we expected nothing different.  However a last gast 2 XP score would be the difference as they executed the clock well, as they had all tournament.

So for a 2nd year in a row, the Barbarians found themselves in the final again, and this time it would be more familiar faces. 4 current SGD players including, defensive star Jakob Espersen, would stand between them and the big prize. Copenhagen started on offence and showed their cards straight away, running the clock down on every drive. They would continue to do this, even after going a score down but relied on the defence to bail them out. This tactic would frustrate the Cobras, leading to an ill-advised throw and interception which gave the Barbarians the ball with the score at 13-12. While it wasn’t perhaps the most exciting game, the mental chess-match went in favour of the Barbarians, and we congratulate them for their terrific accomplishment!

For all the scores and results, visit HERE!

We want to thank everyone who’s read our articles, and in particular thank the Walldorf Wanderers, who’ve been beyond supportive and done another fantastic job with this year’s tournament! We look forward to XIII!

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