It might not be Uniball o’clock but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it, this time we are going to dive into Division One where Premiership dreams and relegation nightmares are in the minds of all teams playing in Div One.
Can Brunel kill the Immortals?
If you watched our Pre-Season rundown you know it’s difficult to say who we think are making their way up to the Prem at the end of the 2022/23, because of having Brunel staff members on our show…Unless you are me.
So let me tell you why Brunel could be the best bet from the South to make their way up to the Prem next year.
Now, this could be discounting their rival Imperial Immortals who managed to beat the Burners twice during the regular season, but my money is still on the Burners.
Let’s first look at the Immortals run last year, it started off with their only loss of the season against the QMBL Vipers but then they went on to win all of their other games including two wins over the Burners, one of which being a 8-0 shutout, with this Imperial, claimed the South Eastern division.
But in an absolute corker of a game, Portsmouth ended the dreams of Imperial in the first round of the playoffs in an 8-7 victory.
Whilst the Burners beat everyone in their division who weren’t called Imperial and earned a playoff spot went all the way to the penultimate game where they matched up with Filton Pride and held them to a 15-0 game, which is shocking considering the points the Pride were putting on teams up to that point.
When we had Brunel’s HC Coach Seb on the Rundown last year he stated the Burners game with Imperial is “circled on my calendar” and for good reason.
Another thing to consider is that the team that won Imperial the division was small with many players playing both ways, we’ve heard from Imperial player Alex Stocks on our Pre-season show that many of that division-winning team aren’t leaving, so with recruitment could the Immortals go back to back and make waves in the playoffs?
Don’t Discredit the Demons.
Doing predictions this early, for the lack of a better term is stupid.
It won’t stop us though.
Nobody has the Demons winning the South in the Sportank consortium but looking at their record in the 2021/22 season, it might not be as cut and dry as we think.
Let’s look first at the Exeter Demons, they might have one of the best social media in the game but their play last year was amazing, the only issue with it? They had Filton Pride slotted into their division.
Beating everyone but the Pride and Southampton in a surprise week 16 loss, Exeter had 5 shutout victories over the whole season, shutting out Royal Holloway & Portsmouth in the Playoffs before meeting the Pride again on route to Filton’s championship-winning season.
But as SJ commented on the pre-season show, is the cycle over for the Demons and with an emerging Bournemouth in their division are the Demons going to prove you shouldn’t discount the Demons.
Is it the Tyrants time?
Much like Exeter, the Manchester Tyrants aren’t being spoken about as coming away with the title of champions of the North, but why?
Looking at the Manchester Tyrants 2021/22 season there should be a lot more respect on their name for 2022/23 season.
Manchester ended last year’s season 4-1-1, which you would think is strange considering Div 1 teams play eight times, two of their games weren’t played.
But the games they did play, came away with some amazing results beating a team that is in the conversation to win the North twice, the Sheffield Hallam Warriors by two points in each match-up. Then smashing Derby and beating LJMU.
The Tyrants went onto the playoffs to meet the future champions of the North in the Newcastle Raiders.
So if Manchester can play all their games, the future is bright for the Tyrants.
Jets in Freefall.
Coventry Jets seem to be far from their 2018-19 Division One championship-winning season.
Falling out of the premiership the next year with an 0-8 record back to Division One, then obviously with Covid nobody played the 2020/21 season.
This leads us to last season, the Coventry Jets went 3-5 beating the winless Leicester Longhorns and a surprise 6-2 victory over the Warwick Wolves later in the season.
The Coventry Jets are going to have to work hard in order to not go the way of the Derby Braves, as they face a difficult division this year with NTU and Loughborough leading the charge for national title contention.
The Jets are going to have to hold back the Wolves and Staffordshire if they don’t want to plummet back to Division Two.
Battle for the North
The Pre-season too early picks for the South were pretty cut and dry in favour of Brunel, but the North doesn’t seem to be so easy to choose.
It seems that the choices have been narrowed down to NTU, Loughborough and Sheffield Hallam.
All three had great seasons last year but the grim reaper of graduation may have swooped in and sent some star players off with a degree.
But the news that could affect this the most is the NFL academy moving its doors to Loughborough, though we don’t think it will change anything this season, Loughborough could be in for a winner in seasons to come.
Loughborough and NTU both reside in the Midlands 1 and both finished with 6 wins, going 1-1 against each other last year.
Their playoff hopes went differently though, with NTU beating Edinburgh 54-0 before losing to the North champions in the Newcastle Raiders, whilst Loughborough went out the first round at the hands of the Sheffield Hallam Warriors.
Let’s talk about the Warriors, going 6-2 and winning the Div One Northern Division, beating everyone in their league not called the Manchester Tyrants and as said before defeating Loughborough before losing to Newcastle.
The North is wide open for someone to come and claim it but is it going to be one of these three teams who runs the north.
Head Above Water
The hardest thing about being on top, is staying on top.
Oxford Lancers, Staffordshire Stallions, Bournemouth Uni Bobcats, Glasgow Uni Tigers, MMU Eagles and Kent Falcons are the squads who have fought their way out of Div 2.
But going into tough divisions could lead these teams to being sent straight back down to Div 2. It happens, look at how much the Leicester Longhorns struggled in the Midlands 1 and are going back down to Div 2 without winning a single game.