It feels good to be back, I am basically a personality-less husk during Summer, but enough about me.
The whole shebang, the bee’s knees, the mutt’s nuts, the Prem.
What are the biggest deals happing on the biggest stage? Let’s have a gander.
UWE looking to go Back-To-Back?
UWE Bullets had one of the most dominant runs in Uniball history last year, going the entire regular season without conceding a point, only to have one of the greatest games played on this fair Island against Nottingham Gold in the final.
The Gold had the Bullets on the ropes a few times during that national final, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats, as many had the Bullet’s victory as a lock after the Gold lost a regular season game to Leeds Beckett Carnegie.
Nottingham are looking to spoil the dynasty dreams of the Bullets and could 2023 be the year the Gold raise the Gold?
Are Stirling Stable?
Last season wasn’t the season Stirling Clansmen wanted, going 2-6 and only beating the Leeds Gryphons who protected the Clansmen against relegation after they went 0-8.
But a team going 2-6 isn’t much of a story, but due to how the Premiership playoffs work the Clansmen found themselves in a post-season duel with the UWE Bullets and the game never got played as it was declared a walkover victory to the Bullets and Covid didn’t seem to be the blame.
To let a playoff game fall by the wayside is one thing, but the Clansmen’s Head Coach also departed after the playoff game was declared for the Bullets.
Given their season last year, its make or break for the Clansmen and their new Head Coach Danny Smith, can they return to former glory or will they not be able to keep their head above water this year?
Rise of the Pride
SGS or Filton Pride, whatever you want to call them make sure to put Division One champions in front of it.
Causing a fluster before they even played their first game the Pride came in and did what everyone expected, winning Division one in their first season and having an utterly perfect season.
They join the Prem South and sets up one of the most eyebrow-raising matchups of the entire season. The Battle of Bristol.
UWE Bullets vs Filton Pride.
When this game happens, I’ll for certain be there, but if the Pride can defeat the Bullets one of their two meetings this season, it’ll set the entire Uniball world on fire.
Raiders Run The Table
The other new kid on the block, the Newcastle Raiders are joining the Prem North and are doing so with fanfare, after they went undefeated in their regular season conquest in Div 1 last year with their only blemish coming against the Pride in the Div 1 Final.
Both Prem Division are tough but with Newcastle staring the Durham Saints, Leeds Beckett Carnegie and the Nottingham Gold in the face.
Due to the sheer strength of the Gold, I think the Raiders biggest test will come from the squad from Leeds Beckett who after beating the Gold last year have got the taste for a ring and if the Raiders can beat a real contender to the Gold’s crown, then Newcastle could cement themselves as a true Premiership threat
If the Raiders can get a couple of wins over a potentially struggling Stirling Clansmen they will forgo the trap of the Prem, I see the Raiders fighting until their last breath but I can’t forecast a National title for the Newcastle Raiders this earlier into this Premiership Campaign, but I see them staying up in the Prem for a while to come.
What Does The Lion Say?
Lets start with the second place team from the South, the Birmingham Lions.
Going 6-2 last year, the season can’t be called a failure in the slightest but a Prem South title illuded them for one very good reason, the UWE Bullets.
The Lions had a perfect record against everyone else but the Bullets, where both losses came through complete shutouts, 52-0 & 42-0, the Lions are at risk of being the bridesmaid and never the Bride.
They are obviously a great side but if those losses to UWE don’t keep some players and coaches up at night then something is wrong, along with losing another shutout to the Nottingham Gold in the playoffs 41-0, if something doesn’t give for the Lion questions need to start being asked.
Beckett Bounces Back
In one of the best season stories Leeds Beckett Carnegie didn’t come away with an appearance in the final, but they had lots to brag about.
Going 6-2, their story didn’t play out the same as Birmingham’s as they managed to conquer the goliath of their Division in the Nottingham Gold beating them 25-14 and given that the Gold had their Bullets-esque vibe of unbreakable armour, this victory came as a massive shock.
And though it’s not much, forcing UWE to concede their first points of the entire season in their playoff showdown also impressed, even though they lost 6-52.
Their season wasn’t all positive as they lost their second meeting with the Durham Saints 47-26, even with this I see Leeds Beckett having a more impressive season this time around.