FFW Feature

The Wasteful 8




With Game Day 3 in the books, we’re starting to get an idea of who should be preparing for life in Division One. Today we’re looking at the reasons they’ll go down, and why they should also have some reason for hope. We’re going off the bottom 2 teams in each division as they stand now!

Edinburgh Outlaws

Why they will go down

Because you are in the HNC Premier Division. Without a serious injection of talent, you’re always going to be looking up at the HNC Heavyweights.  Their offence looked like potentially the worst units in the league, and it’s still iffy on paper in all honestly. They’ve been trying to replace Ewan Miller for what seems like forever now, as Liam Clutterbuck and David Hogg have just been papering over the cracks. Height is a major problem for this team too. Brandon Meikle gave them a big bodied receiver, but if your team is competent at covering quick, shifty receivers, then the Outlaws don’t give you much trouble.

Why they’ll stay up

Despite us talking about Liam being a stopgap QB, he’s actually done a really good job in the games that matter. Their huge win against the Comets came down to a couple of nice, deep completions from the veteran, and his calmness under pressure might be the difference between surviving and going down. That win gives them hope, but their performance against the MEC sides in Newcastle is a real lifeline for the Outlaws. We had them going down, but they’re in a strong position with the Comets failing to deliver a strong encore after their great debut season. This is especially important as there’s only one potential relegated side from the HNC Premier Division. If the Outlaws did end up in the play-off against another Div One team, we’d argue they have the beating of whoever they faced.

As for talent, Jamie Archibald is a difference maker for the Outlaws too, and would be arguably be a star player on any HNC side. His play alone could keep the Outlaws afloat.

Credit: Jimmy Thomson

Clyde Comets

Why they will go down

A miserable start to this campaign and sitting 1 – 5 is not how we envisaged one of the more promising teams from last season starting out in the Premier division. Sure, we still had them battling at the bottom half of the table before the season kicked off, but we did not expect to see their best receiver, Dave Pasnik. Couple that with Bud McFerren under centre early in the season, and you’ve removed almost all of your firepower.  The rest of the team has some talent in Chris Lang and Steven Mercer, amongst others, but the sides that have showed up have been compromised mostly of rookies. The Comets need experience and cool heads now more than ever.

Why they’ll stay up

If Dave Pasnik shows up for the Comets at any point this year, they’re bound to be competitive again. His experience on offence and defence gave the Comets a leg-up on a number of strong teams last year. We like moving Chris Lang to QB, as it lets Bud McFerren stretch his legs and beat defenders. They travelled really well down to Sheffield, so their attendance might be on the upswing. With their strongest five we have no doubt they could do some damage against the Outlaws and the remaining MEC teams to play.

Like the Outlaws, we still think they’re too strong for whoever plays them from Div One, so the Comets are almost guaranteed a stay of execution.

Credit: Rob Connor

Leeds Samurai

Why they will go down

They’re in a tough division, with a number of more seasoned squads around them. They also have two teams in their close proximity to compete with for players in the Giants and Vipers; both of which have a longer history of sustained success than Leeds could put together.  The Samurai squad is decent, but not strong enough in any way shape or form to compete. They’re quite a small (though growing), tight knit outfit, but that brings its own issues – if one player isn’t firing on all cylinders, they don’t have much talent to plug in from the bench. They picked up a big win over the Vipers, but losing to the Comets is going to really hurt their chances of staying up.

As things stand, the Samurai will likely play either the Honey Badgers or Revolution if they do end up in the playoff spot. We see them as underdogs to stay up if they do face either of those sides.

Why they’ll stay up

There’s every likelihood that there’s two teams worse than them in the MEC. The Vipers have been downright dastardly without Keith Woodley in the lineup, while the Blackhawks are a shadow of themselves last season, in both results and lineup. Kyle Taylor is a smart QB, who uses his athleticism well. The Samurai know when they’re beat, and won’t force the issue in a game they have no chance of winning. They save their big punches for winnable bouts, as evidenced by their win over the Vipers.

Credit: Sheffield Vipers

Sheffield Vipers

Why they will go down

They’ve lost to every other team in the MEC, and have barely looked competitive since week one. A two point loss to the Giants was compounded by a 52-47 epic loss against the Blackhawks. In week two they had to survive without Keith Woodley at QB, and they struggled mightily. That dismantling against the Samurai might cost them dearly. If Keith is off, or absent, the Vipers are wretched.

Why they’ll stay up

When they got their QB back, the Vipers managed to pick up a win over the Comets. While that might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, its important since the Samurai went 0-2 on the day. It was also the Vipers first win of the season, and it could kickstart their survival.

Like the Samurai, there’s every chance that both Leeds and Newcastle finish below the Vipers which would obviously see them home and dry. Even if the Vipers finished second bottom, we fancy them against Warrington or the Honey Badgers. It’d be at the very least a coin-flip, as we like the Vipers’ pedigree and experience. Luke Bennett, Tom Fowkes and Daniel Sellwood is the most talented receiving corps of the teams battling for premier division status in our eyes.

Credit: Tracy Lintern Photography

Coventry Cougars

Why they will go down

The Cougars are talented, but they’re probably too lightweight for the SWC Premier Division this season. They’re in a division with two former Britbowl winners and three perennial playoff sides. The Spartans improved massively last season, and their arrival has pushed the Cougars down the order. They’re a naive team, who shoot themselves in a foot a lot of the time with costly errors. There’s limited expectations on them however, as their magical 2017 campaign earned them this spot, but they could be heading straight back down as things stand. Their games against the two relegation candidates from the SEC resulted in two losses, so they need to hope for another win over Birmingham to stay alive. Putting all your eggs in one basket could be a huge mistake.

That’s without mentioning the QB situation. Last season they were unable to get a settled starter, while this year they’ve been unable to retain any of the signal-callers from last season. Inexperience under centre was always going to make this season an uphill battle.

Why they’ll stay up 

Well, they’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. Honestly, no-one really expected them to be overly competitive this season. Birmingham have far more pressure on them to perform well, while the Cougars can play with reckless abandon. Their win over the Birmingham Lions is also huge, and gives them a leg-up over the former champs as things stand.

If they wind up in a playoff situation, we like them to stay up, as they are probably the last team you want to face with limited preparation time.

Birmingham Lions

Why they will go down

They’re a downright shambles without Tristan Varney. We thought they’d look better once Paul Zinkus and Drew Newiss returned, but their arrival hasn’t bore fruit. The Britbowl finalists started the season 0-5 and were almost a certainty for relegation. Offensively, they’re still pretty good, but defensively they just don’t function.

If they got things sorted, they might end up with a playoff game against the Titans White, which we don’t feel would suit the Lions whatsoever. They might be down to the bare bones come playoff time, so their prospects aren’t great.

Why they’ll stay up

Despite the losses and failures, they’re still a talented squad with good athletes. Ask Chichester, who they picked up a huge win against. Thankfully for the Lions, the Cougars joined them at 1-6, so it could be a simple matter of beating the Cougars and letting their superior points differential do the rest of the work.

Reading Lions

Why they will go down

In the toughest division in football, the Lions are going to need to be looking at the SWC and their games against the Sharks to pick up wins. Honestly, we feel pretty comfortable about the Lions staying up, but anything can happen. A loss to the Sharks in the return fixture added with the Chichester side picking up another win could drop them back into that relegation playoff spot.  Will their luck hold? Well, yeah, probably. But…

Why they’ll stay up 

They beat the Sharks once, so mission accomplished – nearly. One more win against the Sharks would almost cement their spot in the Premier Division for 2019. With only one relegation spot, they’re in a far better place than the Sharks. They’ve got a two game lead as things stand, so there’s daylight.

Credit: Rob Connor

Chichester Sharks

Why they will go down

The Sharks just haven’t looked great at all this season. Offensively, Neil Henderson is turning the ball over too often, and the defence aren’t picking up the slack, conceding a league worst 385 points. They apparently suffer from ailurophobia, and put in two clangers against Birmingham and Reading. Their schedule doesn’t ease up either, and with the Reading Lions still picking up wins, they could be left behind.

Why they’ll stay up

Okay, we’re convinced the Sharks are going to the relegation playoffs, but who will they face? That remains to be seen, as teams in the Division One South are still infighting and trying to climb the ladder. There’s no clear side emerging from the pack, and that could suit the Sharks down to the ground. Once a side is settled, the Sharks will be ready with Corey Bedford and co. in tow. We trust the experience of Neil and Corey to help the Sharks overcome whoever they face.


Sports Travel Insurance

Recommended for you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *