Pulling The Flag

Power Rankings – Regular Season

So, we’ve postulated, hypothesized, presumed, theorised, judged and even annoyed some of you with our bye weekly power rankings. Well, now that the regular season has come to an abrupt end and the post season hits us in the face like a wet fish this weekend, it’s probably good timing to give you a end of season run down of the final top 10!

1 Birmingham Lions

Hang on, we have a new number 1! After a season long reign at the top, the Cardiff Hurricanes have been dethroned. Not only have they been dislodged from the top spot, they’ve been usurped by the team that handed them an almighty thwacking 52-20 back on August 1st, the Birmingham Lions.

It seems the Lions are in fact the real deal and are imposing themselves on the league in fine fashion. The eye-catching prowess of their quarterback Tristan Varney, is making the purists go all giddy at the sight of him find his receivers dashing into the endzone seemingly at will.

He has got quite the backing group to assist him in his endeavours in the form of Alex Salter, Drew Newiss, Greg Freeman and co. This merry band of full contact ballers have lit up the flag scene this summer and go into this weekends playoffs as #1 seeds in the South.

They will be hosting everyone this Saturday, with their first game being against the Ware Wolves.

2 Woodham Warriors

Like Birmingham, the Warriors will also be hosting as #1 seeds, having sewn up the right to do so after the Glasgow Hornets lost to the Aberdeen Oilcats. We’ve known for sometime that this would be likely, as Glasgow needed the win and a bucket full of points to overtake them.

So what of Woodham? They’ve admittedly had a softer schedule than some others, however, the win over the Sheffield Predators does lead us to believe they are a genuine contender. As runners-up just two years ago, they have the wherewithal to repeat that success and rebound from a disappointing exit from last years divisional round.

With veterans such as Elliott Holt and Adam Spanswick (if he’s not over indulged on his honeymoon) they have the right blend of experience to go along side their less seasoned newcomers.

Woodham face the Edinburgh Outlaws in the first round and we’d expect them to make it through comfortably and face much a sterner test once through.

3 Cardiff Hurricanes

Cardiff may have lost the all important match-up verses the Birmingham Lions, but we should take into account that they were missing three regular first team players and they had been unbeaten for two seasons until that game.

The loss may turn out to be the weight off their backs and a timely spark to reignite the them just as the playoffs kick off. They have been on such a devastating run of form, the loss to the Lions will not in our eyes see them fall of a cliff just yet.
Their big guns will most likely be back for the playoffs and boy will they need them! A rather mouth watering prospect of the past two years winners meeting each other in the opening round of fixtures is definitely happening. Yep,that’s right, the Hurricanes will face off against the 2013 champions, the London Rebels.

It’s scant reward for winning your division, but it is what it is and with the Rebels now seemingly back in the kind of form we know them to be in, its going to be a real humdinger come Saturday!

4 Reading Lions

You can’t really argue with the record of the Reading Lions. They have just won the SEC South with an undefeated, 13-0 record, in arguably the hardest division in football. The SEC South has for the past two years contained 4 teams to finish on a winning record. The Lions won that division by a margin of 4 wins over the Rebels and 3 over the Sharks and the Panthers. If that’s not pedigree, then we don’t know what is?

However, something is not quite sitting right with us and that something is the worrying news coming from the Reading camp, that they only have 5 available players for this weekend.  Having a close-knit group can galvanise at team and lead them to glory, however if the get past the Solent Thrashers, they may be in the unfortunate position of having to play the Hurricanes or the Rebels. Now we know they have beaten the Rebels twice this season, but that doesn’t make it any the less tough with a small squad.

The Lions have come this far on the crest of a wave and we’d hate to see them fall short because of numbers. Perhaps next season, a countermeasure may see one united Reading Lions, instead of the two teams and they will have much more depth because of it?

5 Sheffield Predators

The Predators have been interestingly quiet this season. They have no real reason to be less bombastic. They have after all qualified for the playoffs without very little fuss. Scratch off the loss to Woodham and they are still one of the best teams in the league.

They can boast to having the best defence in the country, having conceded only 132pts and they have the 4th best offence too, scoring 517. If you take away Glasgow and Aberdeen’s blow-out fiascos, then they would likely be in the top 2 for points scored.
So why are they sliding out of the top 4? Well we’ve had to give Reading their props and we have to take into account who they are playing in the playoffs. They couldn’t really have gotten a tougher tie than they did, in the Aberdeen Oilcats.

Besides the Hurricanes v Rebels, this is possibly the match-up of the playoffs. With the Preds finishing second and the Oilcats finishing third last year, we are licking our chops with excitement for this one.

6 Glasgow Hornets

You could toss a coin for the 5th place between the Hornets and Oilcats. Identical records of 14-1 are highly impressive and 645pts on offence is pretty darn impressive, when you consider that they didn’t play two games and were given forfeit wins.

Again we have purely based this positioning on the match-ups in the playoffs. For winning the HNC North, the Hornets have the more favourable of the two Sheffield teams, in the way of the Vipers. That’s not being disrespectful to the Vipers and in no way is it a sure thing that the Hornets will win the tie, but the Vipers versus the Predators isnt really rocket science.

The two teams did meet earlier in the season at the NuOla Spring Break and the Hornets came out on top with a fairly comfortable win.

They didn’t have the season all their own way though and did share the head-to-head with the Oilcats in the division, so if we were to split the two teams, it would probably be by the thinnest of pieces of paper.

7 Aberdeen Oilcats

After that loss to the Hornets back in week 4, the Oilcats have torn it up and gone unbeaten for the rest of the season, including the return match-up versus the Hornets.

We are not sure what they are feeding the Aberdeenshire lot, but 739ts scored and the 3rd best defence is just rude. They can find themselves extremely unlucky to have finished 2nd in the HNC North and for their penence, they get to compete against the as mentioned before, Sheffield Predators.

With  those  impressive stats they are a scary team to have to face for anyone and should they get past the Preds, who would they likely meet in the next round? Hurray, that’s right, it would likely be the Hornets!

6th place in the rankings may not be doing the Oilcats justice, but its where we have to place them.

8 London Rebels

At the beginning of the season, we had the Rebels in the top 3 in the power rankings. After 3 weeks they started to slip down and after the midway point, they were out the top 10 completely. After resurrecting their season from what seemed to be the demise of the London outfit, they have wormed their way back into our hearts and are back in the top 8.

Why are they so high for a team who finished second in their division? Well not only did they finish strong, they also beat the team below them, the West Essex Showboats, in the remaining round of fixtures at the weekend. The win was reasonably comfortable at 25-6 and secured the playoff spot over the Chichester Sharks and Victoria Park Panthers.

Watch out for London, a win over Cardiff in the first round on Saturday, would certainly peak our interest and no doubt get the rest of the leagues attention too.

9 West Essex Showboats
A 9-2-1 isn’t bad is it? Well no its pretty decent actually. But when you consider their divisions second placed team, the Ware Wolves only finished on a 6-6-1 record it looks a bit meh, compared to the other divisions accross the league.

A fine final day 44-32 win over the Victoria Park Panthers restores our faith in the Showboats though and if they can find that kind of form on Saturday, they will be a dark horse to contend for a place at finals.

They don’t have an easy route though, as the in form Northants Titans are their first round match-up. The Titans are one of those competitive even in loses kinda teams, that you probably would rather avoid in a one off showdown.
We are still a little unsure of the Showboats defensive capabilities, but if offence fires like it did at this stage last year, we will be in for a cracker.

10 Grangemouth Broncos

Grangemouth had a very decent season finishing 11-3, that and the HNC South title is not to be sniffed at. They are though the leagues lowest of all division winners in points scored with 331 and are actually 15th in points scored across all the teams playing post season football, with only the Solent Thrashers behind them.

Their defence ain’t to shabby, giving up 188pts and this leaves us to believe that they are likely to have a very close game with the Mansfield Honey Badgers when they meet in the playoffs.

A final day loss to the happy go lucky Newcastle Blackhawks in the final game of the season raises questions and will be great motivation for the Broncos to step up and do well in the playoffs.

It they get through a game against the host team, the Woodham Warriors is likely to be their reward.

This will be the final power rankings of the 2015 season, so if youv’e got an opinion and wish to share it? You can fire away at pullingtheflag.gmail.com @PullingtheFlag or the more likely comments section of our Facebook page where we shared these rankings with you.

Stay safe out there ladies and gentlemen and may the best teams make the finals!

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