Pulling The Flag

Britbowl – Under 17s Flag National Finals Preview

Following on from the Under 12s preview, at 14.30pm, Sheffield Hallam Sports Park will play host to four teams at the Under 17s age group and for the second year running, the reigning champions will not be at finals after the Coventry Cougars missed out on making the event.

Which teams will be gunning for a National title then?

Well last year’s runners-up, the Northants Titans are hot favourites to gain their first title, but it won’t be easy, with three times winners at this age group, the Buckinghamshire Wolves looking to be top dog once more.

The Wolves looked to be the cream of the crop in the South. Historically perennial contenders, this really looked like their year, especially with the move of the Northants Titans to the North.

Also in the mix, is the very talented Coventry Panthers team making their first appearance at the finals and the improving London Blitz also gunning for silverware.

As mentioned before, the format has been changed to a semi-final, third/fourth place playoff and final this time around.

So, what are the match-ups?

Game 1 – Northants Titans v London Blitz

The Blitz are a relatively young side in the South Conference, but still match-up well against most of their conference, except maybe the Buckinghamshire Wolves.

Their team is largly made up of the championship winning squad at under 13 level in 2015, so they know how to get the job done. That team had bags of speed and talent, so all is not lost.

However…

The Northants Titans are the runners-up from the 2016 season, narrowly losing out to the Coventry Cougars and look to be champions elect at this point.

They have come through a much harder North conference on paper, which boasted eight of the top nine teams from 2016 in it’s conference.

 

The Blitz got their season underway at home in game day two and it wasn’t the best of starts. A 61-0 loss to the Buckinghamshire Wolves was not how they would have liked to have started. However, a close result with a 41-38 win over the Waveney Grey Wolves settled the ship, followed by a 53-35 win over the London Warriors.

2-1 soon became 4-2 after similar results against the Wolves, losing 47-0. Two wins against the Hertfordshire Cheetahs 53-12 and 33-20 with the Grey Wolves.

The Blitz really nailed down second place behind the Wolves with three more wins in Waveney, besting the Grey Wolves again 40-20, Cheetahs 60-0 and really dampening the Warriors chances of finals with a 34-29 win.

They gave the Warriors a slim chance on the final game day, losing to the Wolves again 63-18 and then the Warriors 31-42, but a comfortable win over the Cheetahs 62-7 secured their place over the Warriors at 8-4 to their 7-5 record.

Northants made a strong if not slightly scary start to their season, after missing game day one, they beat the Burnley Tornadoes 33-6, then gave the Coventry Panthers a chance until half time, trailing before pulling away for a 32-18 win, which was followed by a 45-25 win over the Leicester Huntsmen.

The Titans avenged their loss to the Cougars from the previous year’s final, defeating a much different looking team 27-7, which followed two crushing showings, besting the Huntsmen 46-0 and the Chorley Broadswords 53-0.

They would have to wait till game day six to kick into gear again, where they would host. Winning all three games and only conceding six points against the Coventry Panthers in a 20-6. That included a 34-0 win over the Cougars and a 37-0 win over the Huntsmen.

That didn’t quite qualify them for the finals, but they secured their place and an undefeated regular season with three wins. This time only by a point, winning 14-13 over the Panthers. A 41-7 win over the Studley Bearcats and a 34-20 win over the Chorley Cutlasses, dashing their hopes of a finals place and helping the Panthers along the way.

It is clear who the favourite he is and it’s the Northants Titans!

We’d expect a comfortable win here for the North conference team, based on the fact they have been knocking on the door now for two/three years. They have talent in abundance and have a seemingly unstoppable offence at this level.

The Blitz should take heart from their qualification though and if they can keep progressing will be up there in the next year or so, if they don’t all move into contact football.

Any given… Saturday? Not this time!

Game 2 – Buckinghamshire Wolves v Coventry Panthers

With a rebrand after losing the Woodlands part of their name, the Coventry Panthers were always going to be in the mix. Despite the Chorley Buccaneers Cutlasses winning the Huntsmen Bowl and none of the rest matching them that day, they had the capability to qualify for finals based on their players age, height and ability.

Their tussle with the Northants Titans didn’t quite develop, but competition for second with the Cutlasses very much did.

After taking on the Studley Bearcats and defeating them 27-6, they beat the Chorley Broadswords, before their encounter with the Cutlasses. That would go the way of the Panthers in what was a low scoring affair, just edging it 13-6

They wouldn’t face the Cutlasses again till the last game day, so they needed to get some wins on the board until that next meeting.

They came in the form of the Huntsmen in a 18-0 win and the Burnley Tornadoes 57-12. As mentioned earlier, they did give the Titans a run for their money, until a 32-18 win went in the way of the Northants team.

Second place now looked the reality, but a long wait until game day seven would have to be endured. That trip to Northants would yield two more wins, first against their neighbours the Coventry Cougars 37-6, then the Titans would defeat them 20-6, before a 44-19 win over the Huntsmen. That lead to a last game day showdown with the Cutlasses to see who would qualify.

With the Titans finishing off business and beating both the Cutlasses and Panthers, 14-13. They both dispatched the Bearcats, in the Panthers case 28-14 and that lead to a really close 20-14 win for the Panthers over the Cutlasses, nailing down their spot at finals.

The Wolves… (pardon the pun) blitzed the regular season going undefeated and posting a 12-0 season, scoring 522 points and only just conceding over 100, with 103.

A forfeit win from the Cheetahs was their first win, but then they unleashed their scoring power with a 53-14 win over the London Warriors and a 75-0 drubbing of the Waveney Grey Wolves in game day one.

That continued into game day two, with a 61-0 beating of the Blitz, a 44-20 win over the Warriors and a 78-12 win, again over the Grey Wolves.

After six games, they looked to be already on their way to the finals and a conference title. Their relentless didn’t stop there. Three more wins 65-0 over the Cheetahs, 54-13 v Grey Wolves and a 47-0 victory against the Blitz, just showed their dominance at this level in the South.

In their last game day at home they finished the job, with a 63-18 win over the youthful Blitz, followed by a 48-26 win over the Warriors and 72-0 win over the Cheetahs.

The Wolves will go to finals as second favourites for sure, but this is no walk over, no sir. Expect a close affair, but the Buckinghamshire Wolves may just have the edge here and take it by a score or two.

That would set up a clash of the Titans (sorry) and the Wolves in what would be an old school South reunion. We’re not sure if that would suit either as they know each other so well, but it would possibly make the most eye catching final of all potential scenarios.

You will be able to watch the final, live on PTF on our YouTube channel, linked to our Facebook page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEhH7nqg7CqCF9XGuQkw9Ww. So keep an eye out for that at around approximately 16.30pm for all the action.

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