As the Uniball season winds down, teams are beginning to seal their fate and the fight for the playoffs is coming to an exciting climax. Here we are going to take a look at the situations for the Premiership tier, and looking at what the seeding implications are ahead of Week 12.
Before we get started on the current situation, let’s have a quick reminder of the playoffs work for the BUCS postseason.
The two conferences, the Prem North and Prem South each have five teams, and they play an 8-game schedule to decide the standings, and ultimately fight for their playoff spot. The worst team in each league is relegated to Division 1. These have already been confirmed as Coventry Uni Jets (Prem North) and Hertfordshire Hurricanes (Prem South). The four remaining teams in each division will make it to the playoffs.
The top eight teams in the country will then face off in an inter-conference (North vs South) knockout structure, where the highest seed team plays at home. The number one seed in the Prem North will be at home against the fourth seed in the South, and the best team in the South will host the fourth seed from the North, and so on.
These rules make for a very interesting last couple of fixtures, as teams who have already clinched their spot are still fighting for the best possible seed.
Let’s take a look at the current landscape of the Premiership divisions and work out where each team stands.
The Stirling Clansmen currently reside in the top spot with a 6-2 record, however they are far from safe in this spot, as they are only one win ahead of the 5-2 Durham Saints, who would win the division if they win next week due to the tiebreaker. In Week 3, the Saints defeated Stirling 29-6, and then three weeks later the Clansmen were only able to win 6-0, making the aggregate 29-12 in favour of the current second-place team, Durham. They face Leeds Beckett Carnegie (3-3) this Sunday for a chance to win the Prem North and take the coveted #1 seed away from Stirling.
At the opposite end of the division, the Coventry Jets have unfortunately already been relegated, after going 0-6. They can still, however, impact the outcome of the league, as they (after postponing in Week 11) have two games remaining, against the two final teams that make up the Prem North, and who are both level on 3 wins.
The two remaining teams in the division are the Nottingham Gold (3-4) and Leeds Beckett Carnegie (3-3). With things as it stands, Leeds Beckett Carnegie have the upper hand, as if they win both of their final fixtures, they will not only finish above Nottingham, they are able to leapfrog all the way up to the second seed. This is due to having the tiebreaker over the Saints (they beat Durham in Week 4 13-12, and another win would cement their head-to-head advantage). This won’t be easy though, as their opponent isn’t just trying to defend the #2 seed but also fighting for the championship themselves. To add to the drama even more, due to the tiebreaker, if Nottingham win their final game (against the 0-6 Jets) Leeds Beckett Carnegie will only be able to jump them to the three seed if they win both games (Durham this week and then a makeup game against Coventry).
It’s safe to say that this week’s fixture between the Durham Saints and Leeds Beckett Carnegie is the biggest game of the season in the Prem North, and the result of that game could potentially decide all four seeds.
This is set up to be epic.
There are less teams in play to move in the Prem South division, but no less excitement to watch in Week 12.
The seeding from #3 down is all locked in already, with all three teams having already played all of their fixtures. The Swansea Titans finished the season 2-5-1 and secured the third seed, despite going 0-5-1 to finish the year after a strong start. The fourth seed goes to the UEA Pirates, who went 2-6. The Pirates had a rough outing in Week 11, losing 50-2, but their fate was in the hands of the other two teams who tied – luckily for them. The fifth place team in the division were the unfortunate Hertfordshire Hurricanes, who finished the year 1-6-1. If the Hurricanes had beaten Swansea last week, they would have leapfrogged the Pirates in the tiebreaker and made it into the playoffs.
The top two seeds in the South are far from clinched.
The Birmingham Lions and the UWE Bullets are sat atop the division, with a Week 12 fixture on the cards to decide who takes the precious #1 seed and wins the title. The Lions enter the final week undefeated, 7-0, in the driver’s seat, and looking to clinch it with one final win. The Bullets are 6-1, with their only loss coming from their rivals in Birmingham. The final score of that match was 16-2. This means that this week, the UWE side has to go into the Lions’ den and win the game by 15+ points to steal the #1 seed.
The most points that Birmingham have given up all year is 8, and they have an aggregate of 220-20 on the season. The Bullets have the highest scoring offense in the division, with 260 points for, but they will need to do something that nobody else has done to win the division.
While the Prem South doesn’t have as many possible outcomes left as the North, the matchup between Birmingham and UWE will be an intense affair to say the least.
First Round Playoff Fixtures As It Stands
Leeds Beckett Carnegie (4) @ Birmingham Lions (1)
UEA Pirates (4*) @ Stirling Clansmen (1)
Nottingham Gold (3) @ UWE Bullets (2)
Swansea Titans (3*) @ Durham Saints (2)