The surprise this year has been the 2 losses from East Kilbride Pirates. The Pirates haven’t lost two games in a season for at least 3 years and were firm favourites to retain the number 1 seed in the north. That void has been filled by last years 2 seed, Tamworth Phoenix who are unbeaten having taken a game off the Pirates and off 2nd placed Lancashire Wolverines they hold the pole position. Lancashire Wolverines have also made the improvements and that could be seen in their close defeat to Tamworth and their outstanding win over the Pirates. While the pirates may have lost two already all is not lost as they have still to host the Wolverines and the Phoenix in coming week and two wins here would put them right back in the mix.
The rest of the pack are all fighting to avoid the one relegation spot. Each team has one win but Yorkshire Rams having lost 6 need to win one of their last three games. Those games are the Pirates, Rams and Predators. The fact that they play the two teams above them should give them heart. The Predators are the team that the Rams beat in the Yorkshire derby and the Predators have games against the all the other teams in the division. The Coventry Jets also play everyone else once and with a last day game against the Wolverines they will need to pick up a win before that. This relegation battle is going to be fascinating and exactly what BAFA brought in the new system to do, keep us interested until the last day.
The London Warriors win over the London Blitz last weekend really doesn’t have that much of an effect as we know because come the end of the season we will see a Warriors/Blitz one-two either way. With the new set up the top two teams make the playoffs and barring any capitulation that will be the blitz and the Warriors.
The rest of the division isn’t throwing up to many surprises either. The Bristol Aztecs are still trying to break the domination of the London Teams and are doing a good job of competing if not winning. London Olympians are also still there fighting away but firmly stuck in the 3rd place London slot. South Wales Warriors first year in the Premiership last year was a great season for them but with the teams below them and the League restructure they seemed to have been cast adrift with the non-participation of Berkshire Renegades. The only saving grace for the South Wales Warriors is there won’t be any relegation (current words from the league) due to the Renegades not playing this year. This gives the SW Warriors the chance to chalk this season up to gaining experience and prepare for a stern battle next year.