Joe Spreckley continues our UKU Uni Regionals previews with the outlook in the South East.
The south east has finally found a venue and the largest region will get its qualifying tournament for another year. Realistically I can only see two teams having a chance of winning the tournament, the first of course being Sussex (Mohawks).
Sussex enter the tournament heavy favourites having won the previous three open outdoor regionals with relative ease. While some of the big names are starting to graduate, the depth of class in the squad is still evident with players such as John Maule and Sam Airey continuing the winning legacy. What remains to be seen is do they have the depth to get two teams into division one once again? Don’t be surprised to see Mohawks 2 in the 3-4 game to go like last year.
The other standout team in the region this year is Imperial Disc Doctors. Led by Stephan Rossbauer (Clapham) and James Threadgill (Cambridge mixed). They arguably have the strongest individuals in the region. Keeping near enough the same team as last year, David Pryce (Fire), Phil Sandwell (Ka-Pow), and Renny Norman (Iceni) are the other key players which most the play should run through. If the draw allows it, A DD vs. Mohawks final will be a great watch and could be one of the closest for a few years.
|Can Imperial take the title off long standing champions Sussex? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.
|The other team I can see pushing division 1 is Surrey. They were unlucky to miss out on division 1 indoors qualification to a strong Mohawks 2nd team and will be looking to make up for this outdoors. Jon Francombe is the man to watch with some unorthodox breaks that will keep defenders on their toes. I expect to see Surrey in the 3 vs. 4 looking for revenge against Mohawks 2.
While I believe these four teams are hot favourites for qualification, below them, there are a lot of very even teams that if they have a good weekend will be booking their spot for nationals.
The first of these teams are Portsmouth Sublime. A recent friendly against school team Southern Tekkers saw a weakened team lose 8-6. While key players were missing, this result suggests the team might struggle against the stronger teams in the region. With Sam Bowen (Jen, Chevron) a maybe, there will be a lot of pressure on captain Liam Berry (Portsmouth) to uphold the expectations of Sublime. However, with fresher Will Rowledge making the Jen squad, there is definitely still the quality to push teams and get some big results.
UCL will be pushing for qualification with the majority of their squads being retained from last year. Captain Tim Gibson (Thundering Herd) will be looking to push his team into contention and with a good draw this is definitely a possibility. First year Tim Beech has been pinpointed as one to watch after an impressive indoor season, and with a potential Polish wildcard player Marcin Konopa, don’t be surprised to see UCL finish higher than previous seasons.
Kent had some decent indoor results and will look to replicate that outdoors, a physical and mainly zone based defence indoors may transfer well outdoors if the weather conditions suit. Kent should be one of the teams knocking on division 2’s door towards the end of Sunday.
Kings College London are a team that could throw a spanner in the works, while open results weren’t too favourable, their mixed results suggest that they still have a team that can pull a few surprises.
Holloway – Looking for division 2, have Tom Williams as the main play maker to try and give the established SE teams a scare for qualification. Fun fact: Holloway were previously known as the “Holloway Hammers”, a name discontinued once it became apparent there was serial killer off the same name.
Chichester will be reliant upon Alex Rawlinson and Matt Morecraft to make most of the plays this year. With a fresher heavy team, however they may be a team to watch for next season if they can keep hold of their players.
Other teams have remained tight lipped upon their current situation, but going on past results, of these only LSE stake a strong claim to qualifying. Saying that, anything can happen at regionals…!
Well that’s the south covered. Midlands tomorrow!