The Stags seem to have finally overcome the Solent split and are returning to their regular role as national contenders. Graham Thorpe has the offence firing, and the Stags have been scoring for fun with 166 points on the season so far. It would have been a lot more if ARU hadn’t awarded them a 1-0 win.
The offence had to bail them out in the opener against BNU, putting up 52 points in a wild shootout and their run defence was exposed, conceded 48 points to the Buccaneers, who didn’t attempt a single pass. HC Gareth Thomas has done a nice job turning the defence around since then, with convincing wins over Reading and Brunel, where they made plays on both sides of the ball. A strong second half comeback against local rivals Solent saw the Stags hit the break at 5-0 and top of the TVC.
With Surrey still on the schedule the Stags are all but guaranteed postseason football, but this team will be looking at the playoffs and not the plate. While Imperial should test them, the Stags should have too much offence for them. Southampton look set to travel to Portsmouth unbeaten with the TVC title on the line. Unfortunately for them OBU’s easy schedule will mean they probably need to go undefeated to make the playoffs as OBU look likely to run the table, leaving them at 7-1 with far less points conceded (and with no head to head tie-breaker). While they will have the offensive fire power to cause Portsmouth problems, they will have serious problems stopping the power run game.