2021 National Touch Series set for thrilling finale
This weekend witnesses the conclusion of the National Touch Series as we move to Oxford for the third and final round.
In the Elite event on Saturday, Wigan will be looking to continue their top form and with it claim the overall series title. On 92 points, they lead London Scorpions by six, with a further six-point gap to third with Hot Custard, Cambridge Hornets, Nottingham Hoods and NQ Rebels all on 76 points. London Eagles are two points further adrift on 74, with Galaxy on 72. Raptors and Bareback Riders complete the top ten with 70 points each - just six points off third place.
With the format of the series rewarding those teams who win all their matches and score well at the same time, there’s no guarantee being pool winners secures Cup qualification. With only eight cup places up for grabs, these 10 teams will be fighting it out from the very first tap off…and there’s some mouth-watering clashes to whet the appetite before the knockout matches get underway in the afternoon.
The pool fixture results of NQ v Eagles, Hoods v Galaxy, Hornets v Raptors and Hot Custard v BBR could well determine where the coveted NTS trophy ends up, with at least two of these teams likely to miss out on a Cup place this time round.
While it’s not quite as close at the other end of the table, there are still several teams looking for a good points return on Saturday to ensure they avoid relegation at the end of the season. With as many as four teams going down, it could go right down to the wire with every position to play for in Round 3.
As Saturday draws to a close with the Elite NTS final and a second British and Irish Lions victory in South Africa (maybe), those eyeing promotion to the top tier next year will be looking for a good result in the Development NTS on Sunday.
Cheltenham top the table on 92 points and should secure promotion with qualification for the cup. Chargers, Jets and PFT occupy the other promotion spots at the moment, but Galaxy and EY Vipers will be pushing them hard.
The top six are some 16 points clear of seventh place and will all qualify for the Cup with three wins from their pool games. Any slip up though could open the door for one of the others to climb the table and with it secure one of the coveted top four places. Pool D looks particularly eye-catching, with three teams from the top six in round 2 being pitted against one another.
Two fields are being live streamed all weekend for the first time this season, enabling most of the teams to feature on the England Touch YouTube Channel. Watch out for any field allocation changes in the afternoon as we seek to give everyone a chance to demonstrate their skills to the thousands watching online.
Tap off is at 10am on both days, and you won’t want to miss a single side-step!
ELITE NTS POOLS, SATURDAY, JULY 31st, OXFORD RFC.
Pool A Wigan Touch Warriors, Thames Valley Vikings, Canterbury Cougars, London Eagles 3
Pool B London Scorpions, Oxford Touch, Crewe and Nantwich Blaze, St Albans Gladiators
Pool C Cambridge Hornets, Raptors Touch, London Eagles 2, Norwich Rebels
Pool D Hot Custard, Bareback Riders, Cambridge Bees, Chester Cheetahs
Pool E Nottingham Hoods, Galaxy Touch London, Surrey Bisons, Green + Gold
Pool F NQ Rebels, London Eagles 1, Revolution Touch, Nottingham Mavericks
DEVELOPMENT NTS POOLS, SUNDAY, AUGUST 1st, OXFORD RFC.
Pool A Cheltenham Tigers, Nottingham Outlaws, Warwick Knights, Camp Hill Steelers
Pool B Manchester Chargers, Banbury Saxons, CSSC London Eagles, Cheltenham Jaguars
Pool C Bristol Jets, Oxford Touch, Peterborough Touch, Crewe and Nantwich
Pool D PFT Touch Rugby, Norwich Rebels Red, Yorkshire Thorns, Essex Touch
Pool E EY London Vipers, Exeter Eagle Owls, Wigan Spartans, Thames Valley Vikings
Pool F Galaxy Touch London, Chester Wild Cats, St Albans Centurions, Horsham Tigers