Preview: AFI Gameweek 6

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

The Easter break has come and gone, and on top of some MASSIVE flag football news and an EXCLUSIVE promo for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, we also have a preview of this weekend’s action to bring you! With teams looking to either keep pre-bye week form rolling, or to kickstart a season that was struggling up to that point, a lot rides on these next few weeks as we rock into the middle of the season and start looking at more accurately projecting the playoff pictures across each division. Let’s have a look at what this Sunday has to offer.

Note: Originally scheduled for this week was NI Razorbacks @ Louth Mavericks. This game has been postponed. An update on when this fixture will take place will be available soon.


AFI Premier Division

#7 Belfast Knights (0-3) @ #2 Dublin Rebels (2-0) — De La Salle RFC, Palmerston, 2:30pm
The Gameweek 1 demolishing by UCD didn’t really do the Knights any favours for the start of their season, especially when they were permitted back into the Premier Division after previously being relegated in 2019, but that seems to have been a once-off result. Their latest 2 games, while also losses, saw the Knights fight in very competitive games. Robbie Alexander has collected 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble on the season and has definitely been a high-point on a defense that has tightened up after the season opener — Belfast has given up 58, 13 and 19 points in games this year. They will certainly be looking to replicate the latter 2 games than their opener this weekend against an offense that can capitalise on defenses not being on their A game.

The Rebels come into this after shutting out the Admirals and Rhinos 20-0 and 52-0 respectively. With QB Ty Henry feeling himself so far this season (6:1 TD:INT ratio, 1 rushing TD), the Rebels are a dangerous outfit. While they face a defense that has reinforced itself after Gameweek 1, Dublin are hosts this Sunday, which will help boost their chances of victory. With a stout defense of their own, the Rebels are favoured going into this one and it’s hard to go against them here.

#3 South Dublin Panthers (2-0) @ #8 Dublin Rhinos (0-2) — Castleknock RFC, 2pm
Another undefeated vs winless matchup here as the Rhinos host South Dublin. The Panthers come off a close game with the Knights in Gameweek 5, but will be happy to walk into this game undefeated so far, still rolling off the momentum from their 42-13 win over the Trojans. QB Ian Cahill has truly impressed thus far, throwing 7 TDs to 3 INTs. Coming up against a defense that has given up 87 points in 2 games, he and his offense will be looking to add to that tally.

The Rhinos, meanwhile, need to recover quickly, as they face return matches with the Cowboys and the Panthers in their next 2 games after this Sunday. To say they need to take advantage of any preparation they have done over the break is an understatement, as they are at a real risk of relegation even at this early stage in the season. QB Ethan Foster will need his best performance yet to keep the Rhinos in this one.

#5 Cork Admirals (0-1) @ #1 UCD (3-0) — UCD Sports Grounds, Belfield, 2pm
UCD play hosts in a game that they will favour themselves in — not just by record comparison, but by the fact that they have been able to knock the COVID hiatus rust off while the Admirals haven’t. UCD are going into the halfway point of their season, while Cork’s lone game so far was a 20-0 loss to the Rebels. While that is certainly not a metric to judge the Admirals on (the team had not competed in scrimmages during the league hiatus and they could return to regular form later in the year), it’s just hard to ignore what UCD have done to this point. Averaging 43.3 ppg on offense and 14 ppg on defense, the Students have impressed and blown past the majority of expectations put on them. This writer is on the UCD train until otherwise stated. Cork may keep this closer than many expect, but (while trying to dodge the commentator’s curse) this feels like UCD going 4-0.


AFI Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (1-1) @ #5 North Dublin Pirates (0-2) — Trinity Sports Campus, Santry, 2pm
The Pirates are in a bit of a tough spot right now: their home venue for the season has changed, they come off the back of a 52-8 massacre by the Mavericks in Gameweek 4, and their Meath Bulldogs imports (who may have been able to add a bit of juice to this side) have not, at least on the standings, made the impact the Pirates were looking for. Of course, there is still plenty of daylight left in the season, and what better way to build some positivity heading into the midway point of the year than to get a revenge win at home to keep your team’s playoff chances alive? QB Rian Molloy has thrown a touchdown in his first 2 games but, while getting the passing game going is a promising sign, more will be needed of him against a team North Dublin have already lost to.

Speaking of their opponents, the Giants will have been sitting on their 31-16 win over the Pirates for more than a month, having not played since that game on March 20th. The only game they have *played* so far this season (the loss coming on a forfeit to the Razorbacks in Gameweek 1), the Giants defense were arguably bigger stars than their offense — with 2 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown) and 2 fumble recoveries on the day, the Giants swarmed all over the ball in Limepark. Knowing they may only need to replicate that gameplan, on top of the fact they have been sitting on a win for a month while the Pirates have needed to recover from a blowout loss, the Giants will surely be confident going into this one.

Quickfire Predictions
Knights 14 – 28 Rebels
Panthers 34 – 8 Rhinos
Admirals 10 – 24 UCD
Giants 27 – 14 Pirates

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram stories for a chance to give your thoughts on this weekend’s stupendous offering by voting on winners’ polls and leaving us your predictions for Sunday’s action!