It has been a long time coming but this one is finally upon us. With Solent and Southwark set to square off on Sunday, the destination of the D1W title could be close to being decided by the end of the weekend. With 4 other games on the cards though, there’s lots to get through with both relegation places and playoff seedings still needing to be settled. We’ll also provide the score of the previous game that teams have played this season in D1W. With the primary tie breaker between two sides being their head to head record (including points difference) between each other over the 2 fixtures in a season, teams are not only looking to win but also secure any potential tiebreakers should two sides be equal on points come the end of the regular season.
For Southwark, the equation is simple. Win and win big. Needing a victory by 24 points or more to secure the head to head with Solent, the Pride will need to make sure they’re going all out from the get go in this one. One positive for Southwark is that they have already inflicted a defeat on Solent by the required margin this season during the National Cup Final. Winners 57-22 that day, Coach Gibbons will be looking for a similar performance from his young roster on Sunday. In that game, the Pride were able turn to their bench late on, but don’t expect the same in this one if the hosts are still chasing the required margin for victory.
Solent are facing a number of questions this weekend and the answers could ultimately decide the success of their title challenge. Was their National Cup Final defeat a one off? Was the Kestrels D1W win over Southwark a freak result? How should the Kestrels approach this game? Is it going to be better to try and play their natural game, or to try and bleed the clock as much as possible to reduce the number of possessions, and potential points, in the contest? A scrappy, low scoring game would suit Solent just fine but to do that, they’ll need to get the Pride off their game and there was zero evidence of that the last time these sides met in Worcester for the Cup Final. Only Coach Lee has the answers for Solent, but we all look forward to finding out how this one will play out.
Previous meeting – Team Solent Kestrels 75 v 52 Southwark Pride
Solent and Southwark last met in the National Cup Final, with Southwark winning that day 57-22 - Mansoor Ahmed/AhmedPhotos
With just 4 games to go, it is a little optimistic to suggest that this game represent a chance for Essex to catch Charnwood in 3rd, but the Blades do need to finish the season strong if they are going to keep hold of 4th and stay ahead of Barking. With this game against the Riders, plus a home tie with Southwark and BA still to go, it’s a tough way for Essex to finish the season. With the Flyers lurking 2 points back in 6th, a poor end to the season could cost the Blades more than 1 place in the standings if they’re not careful.
Charnwood though are unlikely to move up or down and would appear to have 3rd place pretty much locked up. With 4 games to go, previous losses to Solent and Southwark mean that their title chances are over, and a 6-point gap to Essex in 4th means that any drop down the table is equally as unlikely. Still, with the opportunity to grab some momentum before the playoffs begin there is plenty of reason for the Riders to finish the season strong.
Previous meeting – Charnwood College Riders 57 v 41 Essex Blades
If Lancashire are going to beat the drop, winning this game and securing the head to head with ARU is going to be a must. As the next closest team to the Spinners right now, a win this weekend would mean that Lancashire were just 2 points from safety with 3 games to go. Unfortunately for the Spinners, 2 of their remaining games are @ Solent and @ Southwark, hardly guaranteed points! At the sharp end of the season, with pressure on everyone, a shock result wouldn’t be out of the question. Regardless, the Spinners need to win here before they can look forward.
For ARU, it’s another simple equation. Win and you’re safe. Even a loss wouldn’t be the end of the world if the margin is by less than 5. A win would also push Ruskin back into a playoff position with Reading out of action this weekend. D1W survival should be the Rhinos 1st priority though.
Previous meeting – Anglia Ruskin University 62 v 57 Lancashire Spinners
Bristol could still continue their rise up the D1W table and secure 5th place, but grabbing 4th might be a stretch. Just 2 points behind Barking and Essex, the Flyers own the head to head record over the Blades but not BA. With 2 games against Charnwood still to navigate it could be tough for the Flyers to finish strong but fixtures with Exeter and Lancashire have the potential for points. Victory here would make it 5 in a row for Bristol and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Exeter couldn’t grab a win last week but they did put in a vastly improved performance in a loss to Essex. Finishing the season with 3 road games, the Eagles still have time to improve before the year is out. A difficult campaign without doubt, this roster has still had the opportunity to experience basketball at this level and that is sure to serve them well going forward regardless of the division they are in.
Previous meeting – Exeter Eagles 29 v 77 Bristol Academy Flyers
Neck and neck with Essex, BA will have the opportunity to face the Blades on March 18th in a fixture that could decide 4th place in the table. Before that, Barking have 3 straight home games to build on a 3-1 record in their last 4 games. This game with Bristol should be winnable for Abbey, as should next week’s fixture with Exeter. After that it’s all business for Coach Burton’s side, entertaining Solent before that trip to Essex. With a home playoff game on the line, that should provide all the motivation needed to get the best from this side.
Bristol Storm will be disappointed to have lost both games on the season to their cross town rivals the Flyers, dropping last weekend’s home game 58-47. That defeat hasn’t hurt the Storm’s playoff aspirations as of yet, but they are at .500 for their last 6 games and need to find an uptick in their form sooner rather than later. With 3 teams all tied on 12 points and only 2 playoff places to go around, the Storm need to finish strong to make sure they aren’t the team that misses out.
Previous meeting – Bristol Storm 64 v 73 Barking Abbey UEL