The final regular season weekend of football in the National League saw the London Warriors destroy the London Blitz 51-8 to take the Premiership South while in the North, the Tamworth Phoenix overcame the Sheffield Giants 63-18 to post their third consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Warriors also finished their season unbeaten and should meet the Phoenix in Britball XXXII after next Sunday’s semi-finals.
Premiership semi-finals to be played Sunday August 26
Tamworth Phoenix vs London Blitz
London Warriors vs Manchester Titans
National League Playoff Results
As many expected, the Division 1 playoffs went the way of the seedings.
Division 1 North
At the end of last season, the Newcastle Vikings and Northumberland Lightning merged with the ambition of reaching the playoffs as the Northumberland Vikings. They succeeded in fulfilling that goal when hosting the Sandwell Steelers, who have made the playoffs for the last four years.
These two teams fought a titanic battle that no team deserved to lose matching each other with scoring opportunities. At halftime, the teams were tied 21-21 before the Vikings scored early in the second half only to see Sandwell strike with two touchdowns and lead 33-28 in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings had the final say five minutes before the end of the game with a touchdown that sealed a 34-32 victory that sent Northumberland to the semi-final and left the Steelers waiting until next season to try again.
The (10-0) Leicester Falcons continued their winning ways by taking a 44-7 win over the Lancashire Wolverines and look very strong candidates to extend their streak against the Vikings.
Division 1 South
Last season, the Solent Thrashers lost 55-29 in the first round of the playoffs to the London Olympians who went on to win the final. In contrast, last year the London Hornets were finding that playing division one football was not so easy after being promoted.
The Thrashers dominated the game from their first possession when #25 finished the drive with a touchdown. While the Hornets were finding it difficult to move the chains, the Thrashers offense were controlling the game. Solent’s defense held the Hornets to repeated three and outs and London’s cause was not helped by the early ejection of their kicker for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Solent held a 29-0 lead before a great kick return by London provided the opportunity for the Hornets to reduce their deficit by six points. With the Thrashers leading 29-6 at halftime, the intensity fell off in the second half as they rotated players.
The one spark for the Hornets came in the final quarter when #8 came on to replace their injured quarterback. He ignited the offense with his bursts of speed and threw a touchdown pass despite being under presure from adefensive lineman.
With a comfortable 42-12 victory behind them, the Thrashers focus now turns to next Sunday’s semi-final.
Last year the Kent Exiles found the London Olympians too strong in the Division 1 semi-final, but they have now earned a chance to put that behind them with a 35-14 triumph over the Sussex Thunder to extend their playoff progress with a visit to the south coast.
Division 1 semi-finals to be played August 26
Leicester Falcons vs Northumberland Vikings
Solent Thrashers vs Kent Exiles
Division 2 North
The all Scottish Conference champions Aberdeen Roughnecks played host to the Birmingham Bulls who were making the playoffs for the first time in five years. The Roughnecks led 10-0 before the Bulls fought back to take a 14-10 lead but Aberdeen edged a 16-14 win.
The Chester Romans, who were beaten by the Manchester Titans in last year’s Division 1 National Final, knocked out the Staffordshire Surge with a 37-14 win and now have the chance to put that loss behind them.
The NFC 2 North final between the Aberdeen Roughnecks and the Chester Romans will be played September 1 at Druids Park, Newcastle, 1800.
Division 2 South
The London Blitz B are a team that has shown improvement over the past few years and they faced the Hertfordshire Cheetahs who, having been relegated two seasons ago, just failed to make the playoffs last year. This game saw two conference champions battle for a place in the Southern final and it was the Cheetahs who came out on top with a 44-32 win.
Relegated from Division 1 last year, the South Wales Warriors went undefeated during the 2018 regular season and as the number one seed played host to the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts, who have improved each season and only just failed to take their conference title which was decided on points conceded in a head to head with the Cheetahs.
The Dreadnoughts led 16-0 after the first quarter and were always in control as they extended their 23-6 halftime lead with two touchdowns in the second half for a comfortable 37-12 victory. Portsmouth will now meet their conference rivals from Hertfordshire in what should be an intriguing battle for the Division 2 South crown.
The SFC 2 South final between the Dreadnoughts and Cheetahs will be played on September 2nd at the Leicester Road Stadium, Leicester, 1430.
Above images of the Thrashers opening score with Adam Bowley running it in and the Hornets second touchdown courtesy of @SteelUK.