The Thursday Review
13th April 2017
With no fixtures scheduled over the Easter weekend, the Friday Preview takes a break for a week. In its place comes a special Thursday Review as we take a quick spin through the divisions to see who’s been promoted and relegated, who’s in the play-offs and who still has it all to play for.
In the Men’s Super 8, Team Northumbria topped the table at the end of the regular season. Solent were relegated without a win to their name while London Docklands were consigned to the relegation play-off in the final weekend. In the Super 8 play-offs, the seedings have held sway so far with Wessex and Sheffield Hallam making it through to the semi-finals.
In Men’s Division 1, Team Essex Blaze are the champions and will take Solent’s Super 8 spot. Tendring currently occupy the play-off spot but will lose that to Richmond should they defeat relegated Manchester Marvels in the final match of the season on April 23. Northumbria / Middlesbrough Academy finished 8th and will contest the relegation play-off against the two Division 2 runners-up.
In Men’s Division 2 South, London Aces secured promotion weeks ago and will finish a massive 12 points clear of the field should they win their final match against New Forest. Victory for New Forest would put them in the play-off spot, leapfrogging London Lynx 2. However, four points from their remaining two games would see City of Bristol overtake them both. At the bottom, Team Southampton and Portsmouth City are relegated but Team Essex Estonians can yet escape the relegation play-off spot if they can beat City of Bristol and thus consign Exeter Storm to the play-off.
The promotion picture is all sorted in Men’s Division 2 North where the unstoppable Sheffield 2 have been crowned champions. They have two league games remaining in which to protect their 100% record. Team Durham are safely ensconced in the promotion play-off spot.
At the other end, Newcastle Staffs 2 are heading for Division 3 but there is two-way scramble to avoid the relegation play-off. Sixth placed Darkstar Derbyshire are just safe on set difference, leaving Nottingham Rockets 1 and Coventry & Warwick Riga to slug it out. Both sides have to play the mighty Sheffield and unless Riga can do what no-one else has done all season and beat Sheffield, they’re heading to the play-offs.
In Men’s Division 3 Central, Cambridge VC / Anglia Ruskin University got the champagne out last weekend when they clinched the league title. Norwich Spikers will have to take their chances in the play-offs, having finished two points behind the champions.
In Men’s Division 3 North, University of Nottingham bulldozed their way to the league title with 14 wins from 14. They still have two play and have so far dropped just two sets all season. Trying to hold on to their coat tails were Sheffield Scorpions who eventually claimed the play-off spot, holding off a spirited challenge from Hull Volley Thunder on set difference only (+24, compared to +22). Sheffield and Norwich will now meet in the play-offs against whoever finishes in the Division 2 North relegation play-off spot.
London Baks are the champions in Men’s Division 3 South East, narrowly pipping Richmond 2 to the title. If Richmond want to follow the Baks into Division 2, they’ll have to overcome the 8th placed Division 2 South side as well as Oxford Students who have taken the play-off spot in Division 3 South West. Oxford fell two points short of Bristol in the race for automatic promotion but are now safe in 2nd thanks to their superior set difference compared to Team Bristol in 3rd.
Division 1: Champions - Team Essex Blaze; Promotion play-off – Tendring or Richmond; Relegation play-off - Northumbria / Middlesbrough Academy; Relegated - Manchester Marvels.
Division 2 South: Champions - London Aces; Promotion play-off – London Lynx 2, New Forest or City of Bristol; Relegation play-off – Team Essex Estonians or Exeter Storm; Relegated - Team Southampton and Portsmouth City.
Division 2 North: Champions - Sheffield 2; Promotion play-off – Team Durham; Relegation play-off –Nottingham Rockets 1 or Coventry & Warwick Riga; Relegated – Newcastle Staffs 2
Division 3 Central: Champions - Cambridge VC / Anglia Ruskin University; Promotion play-off – Norwich Spikers.
Division 3 North: Champions – University of Nottingham; Promotion play-off – Sheffield Scorpions.
Division 3 South East: Champions – London Baks; Promotion play-off – Richmond 2.
Division 3 South West: Champions – Bristol; Promotion play-off – Oxford Students.
In the women’s competitions, the Super 8 followed the same path as the men’s competition with Team Northumbria topping the regular season table and with the higher seeded teams (Polonia SideOut London and Pulsepoint London Orcas) having already won their play-off quarter-finals. City of Salford finished winless in last while Team South Wales filled the relegation play-off spot.
Salford’s Super 8 berth will be taken by Birmingham after they won the Division 1 title with a 3-0 win over Bristol last weekend. Oxford Students’ 3-1 win over Malory Eagles in their final match meant they were confirmed as Team South Wales’ play-off opponent. At the other end, Herts and Worthing currently occupy the bottom two spaces. The latter have just one game (against Team Essex Trinity) in which to save themselves from a relegation play-off (no team is automatically relegated from this division this season). Herts have two games left and a superior set difference and would appear favourites to escape.
In Division 2 North, champions Sheffield Hallam are six points clear with one game remaining but Team Sunderland and Tameside are separated by just one set in 2nd and 3rd. Sunderland host Darkstar Derbyshire in their final game on the 22nd while Tameside host Newcastle Staffs the same day. At the bottom, Norfolk Ladies are heading back to Division 3 after one season while North Riding Eagles are confirmed in the relegation play-off spot.
In Division 2 South, Beach Academy are the champions, having racked up an impressive 52 points from 18 games. Superior set difference means that Cambridge VC / Anglia Ruskin University are confirmed in the promotion play-offs with one match still to play. At the bottom, it’s a bad time for the south coast as both Plymouth and Portsmouth are relegated. Dartford Ladies will have to take their chance in the relegation play-off.
With just one defeat all season, University of Nottingham may have been forgiven for thinking that they should have already clinched the Division 3 North title but, incredibly, Leeds could yet catch them. The Yorkshire side need to win their two remaining fixtures (against Ashfield Vipers and York Falcons) and ensure they lose no more than two sets in doing so. Otherwise, the consolation prize of the play-offs awaits.
In Division 3 Central, Telford are all but mathematically certain of claiming the league title while Loughborough Students seem equally certain of having to contest the play-off. Over in the South East, London Inter have strolled to the title while Sussex Dolphins only need to win a set in their final match against 3rd placed Richmond to secure the play-off berth.
Rounding it off in the South West, South Hants will play in Division 2 next season after bagging 19 wins in a mammoth 20 match campaign. With a game still to go, Cardiff Falcons are confirmed in 2nd.
Division 1: Champions - Birmingham; Promotion play-off – Oxford Students; Relegation play-off – Herts or Worthing.
Division 2 North: Champions – Sheffield Hallam; Promotion play-off – Sunderland or Tameside; Relegation play-off – North Riding Eagles; Relegated – Norfolk Ladies.
Division 2 South: Champions – Beach Academy; Promotion play-off – Cambridge VC / Anglia Ruskin University; Relegation play-off – Dartford; Relegated – Plymouth and Portsmouth.
Division 3 North: Champions – University of Nottingham or Leeds; Promotion play-off – University of Nottingham or Leeds.
Division 3 Central: Champions – Telford or Loughborough Students; Promotion play-off – Telford or Loughborough Students.
Division 3 South East: Champions – London Inter; Promotion play-off – Sussex Dolphins or Richmond.
Division 3 South West: Champions – South Hants; Promotion play-off – Cardiff Falcons.