South Wales Warriors RB Daniel Abruzzese - Photo: Craig Thomas/Replay images

Unbeaten South Wales Warriors Face Local Opposition in Play-Offs

A Severnside derby stands between the unbeaten South Wales Warriors and a British American Football Association semi-final.

The Warriors host Division Two South West rivals the Bristol Apache in the Southern Conference quarter-finals on Sunday (2.30pm) at Llanharan Rugby Club.

The Warriors lost at the semi-final stage last year, at home, to the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts which condemned them to a second successive season in the bottom tier.

Though the Warriors aim is to win the Southern Conference championship as the the second seeds in the play-offs they could potentially take the additional third promotion place even if they were to lose at the semi-final stage this year.

But to reach the semi-finals the Warriors must first overcome the Bristol Apache, who were relegated from Division One last year, for a second time this season.

The rivals only played each other once during the regular season when the Warriors crossed the Severn Bridge and came back from the West Country with a convincing 21-46 win.

In that fixture the Warriors put up 21 unanswered first quarter points and only conceded late touchdowns to their hosts.

The Warriors enter the play-offs on the back of a convincing 51-0 home victory over the 1-7 Cornish Sharks last week which completed a perfect 8 and 0 season.

The Apache, who finished third in the South West division with a 5 and 3 record, enter the play-offs after a three week break. They last played on July 21 when they recorded a 0-47 away win over the winless Worcestershire Black Knights.

Though the Apache have scraped into the play-offs as the seventh of eight seeds they have play-off experience from their 2017 promotion campaign.

The Warriors relied on their strong running game in their final regular season victory and are happy to hand the ball to leading rusher Josh Hughes or any of Daniel Abbruzzese, Adam Hilton , Liam Thomas or Chris Rees in the knowledge they will gain yards.

Veteran quarterback Dean Jackson leads the offence but teenage understudy Harry Taylor is out for the season having dislocated his shoulder in the tough 10-6 victory over the Torbay Trojans that clinched the divisional title.

The Warriors trained on Thursday and head coach Geraint Roberts said while it might be expected to meet teams from other divisions in the post season the focus now is on Sunday’s game: “We just have to take the positives from the last game into the next and defence will be key again.

“When you make the play-offs you want to play against teams from outside your division but we’ve just got to play whoever we’re drawn against.”

Both Southern Conference finalists will be promoted as of right but due to three teams being relegated from Division One South this year, after the Ouse Valley Eagles were relegated for forfeiting fixtures in in two consecutive years, there is a third promotion spot which will be awarded to the highest ranked losing semi-finalist.

 

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