The playoffs beckon those who are fierce enough to grasp them, or some other end of season cliche.
This is Division 1 Uniball, Week 15.
There is one king of this divison and many who is looking to carry on their reign of dominance, whilst everyone else looks to play spoiler if they meet in the postseason.
1 – SGS Pride – South Western 1
They have done it; they have smashed their division and are going to the postseason.
The newcomers to the BUCS league have gone above what was expected of them by only allowing 6 points scored against them and scoring 344 on their opponents so far.
With 3 of their scores going above 50 points and one above 70, the Pride will look to round out their first season in BUCS with a win over the Bristol Barracuda on Superbowl weekend.
Their playoff journey will be one to watch as hopefully, someone will be able to challenge the Pride to see what they look like when pressure is applied.
2 – Loughborough Uni – Midlands 1
Before the crown of Midlands 1 is handed over to Loughborough, they first have to get through the 5-2 NTU Renegades this weekend and the 0-7 Leicester Longhorns next weekend; one task is more enviable than the other, but they haven’t clinched the division yet.
Loughborough is second this week because they won two games over the stretch of four days, one of which I was fortunate to go and see.
Looking at their score lines and seeing they have had two games decided by 2 points and their game against Warick Wolves decided by one, the word I would use to describe Loughborough is gritty.
In their Wednesday night game with Warwick, L’Boro let in 12-0 unanswered points, and the first half was scoreless from the former aces. Though in the second half, Loughborough put 13 on the Wolves, who capitalised on Loughborough’s mistakes in the first couldn’t find any in the second half.
Loughborough then went on to Sunday, where they beat the Leicester Longhorns 34-14.
Loughborough is one of the lucky teams who has improved after the covid break, though they finished second overall their record of 5-3 and a differential of +8 is nothing compared to their current 2021/22 record of 6-0 and a +79 diff.
Their impressive two games in four days have put them in impressive stead, and if they can get past NTU & Leicester, then the division belongs to them.
3 – Newcastle Raiders – Borders 1
Newcastle have won Borders 1 at a perfect 6-0 already, but they’ve got two games left, as the Edinburgh Predators can’t catch them as they are currently on 3-3 with two games left.
But can they run the table? Can they clean sweep their division? It looks likely.
With a differential of +113 and a perfect record of 6-0, Newcastle is only a few weeks away from division supremacy as they go on to face the 3-4 Northumbria Mustangs and the 2-5 Hull Sharks, both of which were shut out by Newcastle 25-0 & 28-0 respectively in their first meetings this season.
I believe the Hull Sharks could play the spoiler more than the Mustangs as the Sharks are coming off their biggest win of the season, putting 34 unanswered points on the York Centurions, whilst Northumbria has lost their last two games.
In terms of comparing their 2019/20 campaign, they can only tie their past season record as they went 6-2 with a differential of +113.
With 4 of their six games this season being shutouts, the Raiders have proven that they have the sauce but, their latest victory against the Edinburgh Predators was their closest game so far, getting a 14-6 victory over the Scottish side. Hopefully, it doesn’t indicate a downward trend for the Raiders.
4- Imperial Immortals -South Eastern 1
Imperial had a double points game against the Essex Blades this week which has catapulted them to the top of the South Eastern 1 Divison, but the division isn’t theirs yet.
Their 24-9 victory over the Essex Blades is the Immortals biggest win so far this season, with their highest victory margin before this game being eight, which they managed over two games that were both shutout victories.
Imperial has solidified themselves as a premier defensive side, only allowing 38 points against them this season, with 14 of that being from the only team to defeat them and their last game of the season, the QMBL Vipers.
I believe, given the five-win streak (with two walkovers), the Immortals are going to get their loss back from the Vipers and win the South Eastern 1 Divison.
Due to the experience they have gained from shutting down teams such as the Brunel Burners, who have shown their offensive is explosive as Brunel has had multiple games where they’ve scored 50+ points.
Comparatively to their 2019/20 season, the improvement is massive, as their 19/20 campaign saw the Immortals go 2-4-1 with a differential of -81.
I believe their defence will take them far once they reach the playoffs, and if they can achieve more high scoring games, Imperial could shock some teams in the postseason.
5- Sheffield Hallam Warriors – Northern 1
With the Northern 1 crown resting solely on the heads of the Sheffield Hallam Warriors and a derby game with the Sheffield Sabres coming this weekend, Hallam looks to enter the playoffs with momentum over their varsity opponent.
Hallam are going into their final game with a 5-2 record, a +119 point differential and 10 BUCS points, with two losses coming at the hands of the Manchester Tyrants, but given the Tyrants are now 3-1-1 with 5 BUCS points.
The Warriors have to keep an eye out for the score of the Tyrants vs Derby Braves game, and if the Tyrants vs LJMU Fury game gets rescheduled, wins from Manchester will put them in second place in the division and could lead to a playoff berth.
The prior season for the Warriors was slightly worse, going 4-4 and coming 3rd in the 1A Yorkshire and Lancashire Divison, so claiming the division through winning one more game has to be a positive and shows how vital any one win is in uniball
6- Hertfordshire Hurricanes/Royal Holloway Bears/ Portsmouth Destroyers – Southern 1
The second triple ranking of the season, despite the Hurricanes continuing their campaign to get back to the prem and are on top of the Southern 1 division, I don’t believe that I can rank them higher than the bears or the Destroyers.
The Hurricanes very well may win the division as they have finished their season with a 5-2-1 record, 11 BUCS points, and a -5 point differential; despite being in first place, their chance at taking the crown depends on the Royal Holloway Bears, who they had a 0-0 draw against in week 13.
The Bears have one of the strangest records in uniball as they currently sit with a 3-1-2 record, 8 BUCS points and a +43 differential.
With two games left to play for the Bears with the 2-5 Sussex Saxons and the 1-5-1 Surrey Stingers, the draw for Surrey came against the Bears whilst the Saxons lost to the Bears 27-0. But with two wins, the Bears will leapfrog the Hurricanes into first place.
Now the Destroyers, who I once wrote off as “their season is over” due to their 0-3 start to the season, have come back winning their last three games against the Bears, Saxons and Hurricanes.
Due to this winning streak, the Destroyers now have a chance to make the playoffs dependent on the games they have to play as well as the Bears’ fixtures.
The Destroyers have to get through the 1-5-1 Surrey Stingers twice to end out their season. If both of those end up as wins for the Destroyers, they will have to rely on the Saxons or Stingers taking the Bears out to put Portsmouth in the playoffs and, because I’m a man of my word, also sending me to watch their first playoff game.
Teams to improve – LJMU Fury – Northern 1
The Fury have finished their season if a rescheduled game with the Tyrants doesn’t occur. They end the 21/22 season with a record of 1-5-1 and a differential of -107.
With relegation in their future, the Fury will have to fight hard to reach the same levels they achieved in the 2019/20 season as they finished second in their division, having a record of 6-2 with a differential of +49 and beat teams like the UCLAN Rams via shutting them out twice.