The Friday Preview
24th March 2017
The relegation dogfight in the Men’s Super 8 goes to the wire this weekend with three London teams all hoping to avoid finishing in the relegation play-off spot.
With Solent already destined to finish bottom, any one of London Docklands, Malory Eagles or London Lynx could yet find themselves in 7th come Sunday evening – and heading for a play-off decider.
Malory are already in the clubhouse with 17 points from their 14 matches after a hugely significant 3-0 win over London Lynx last weekend catapulted them into 5th place.
That result dropped Docklands into 7th ahead of their home match against IBB Polonia London this Saturday. The hosts, currently on 15 points, know that a three point win will see them safely back ahead of Malory. A two point win will leave them in limbo for 24 hours and reliant on Sheffield Hallam taking all three points at home to London Lynx on Sunday.
In the Women’s Super 8, league leaders Team Northumbria travel to play Wessex on Saturday and then Pulsepoint London Orcas on Sunday. Fresh from two thumping wins last week, where they never conceded more than 16 points per set, Northumbria need just one win to clinch first place going into the play-offs.
The match against the Orcas is a dress rehearsal for the Cup Final which takes place at Kettering the following week.
In Women’s Div 1, league leaders Birmingham lost their undefeated record when they went down 3-1 to 2nd place Malory Eagles last weekend. A trip to New Forest on Sunday provides a chance for immediate redemption. Defeat would however open the door for Malory (not in action for another fortnight) and Oxford Students. The Students have a game in hand and travel to Team Essex Trinity on Saturday, knowing that a win would take them past Malory on set difference.
Another Div 1 side looking to get over a painful defeat is Worthing. A 3-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Herts last weekend saw the two sides trade places in 7th and 8th. With just two matches remaining, Worthing now need a win if they are to avoid automatic relegation. Their first shot at that comes on Saturday when they travel to play Bristol.
Over in Men’s Div 1, there are four big fixtures at the top of the league. Team Essex Blaze travel to play Cardiff Celts on Saturday knowing that three points, coupled with their vastly superior set difference, will be enough to clinch the league title. Cardiff play again on Sunday when they host Black Country but even a six point weekend haul will be insufficient for them to overhaul Team Essex.
The same cannot be said of 3rd placed Richmond. If they can win all three of their remaining fixtures, starting with Sunday’s trip to Leeds, and if Essex lose at Cardiff, Richmond could yet make a late dash for the top.
In the race for the consolation play-off prize, Tendring can’t be discounted. A nail-biting 3-2 win over Leeds last weekend kept their season alive. Currently sitting 4th ahead of playing host to Newcastle Staffs this Saturday, Tendring could yet spoil somebody’s party.