It’s the penultimate round of League action, and while the only confirmed semi-finalists sit it out, the other contenders for the playoffs all face crucial matches tonight.
Crystal Ball Preview
Duffield are confirmed in the semi-finals, and need only a handful of points next week to finish top. Nottingham or Oxford will join them, and they meet in the final round, so both will be looking for as many points as possible tonight, Nottingham to increase their 10 point lead, Oxford to close the gap.
OXFORD (71pts) v BIRMINGHAM (49pts)
A win is a must for Oxford, and preferably a better on than Nottingham can manage. There’s a good chance that Birmingham could dent those hopes though, and CB goes for a 3-2 away win to leave Oxford’s hopes hanging by a thread.
PONTEFRACT (53pts) v NOTTINGHAM (81pts)
A win for Nottingham tonight would probably mean that any sort of win at home to Oxford would see them into the semi-finals, but Pontefract could damage that prospect badly. If Willstrop plays CB goes for a 4-1 home win, which would disappoint Nottingham butset up next week’s match nicely.
With two matches to play it’s two from three for the semi-finals. Surrey have the points in hand (130) , but have to play both of their rivals, while St George’s (113) and Exeter (111) both have one ‘easier’ match where they will hope to gain points.
BRISTOL (50pts) v EXETER (111pts)
Exeter should take back second place with an away win at stragglers Bristol, but they may have to settle for 3-2 and less than the hatful of points they would like.
WINCHESTER (80pts) v CHICHESTER (73pts)
The playoffs are out of reach, but this should be a good contest, we’re plumping for a 3-2 away win for no reason we can think of.
SURREY (130pts) v ST GEORGE’S (111pts)
If Surrey can repeat their win over St George’s in last year’s final they will be all but guaranteed a home semi-final (mathematically they need 21 points tonight with only 20 on offer), and quite honestly this could be 5-0 either way or anything in between. We’ll go for home advantage and a 4-1 Surrey win, and a nervous wait for St George’s.[/box]