Preview: AFI Kitted Gameweek 4

Gameweek 4 is upon is, with 4 games taking place this Sunday after the addition of Gameweek 2’s Mavericks @ Razorbacks game. With action across all 3 divisions this weekend, there’s plenty to look forward to around the country — let’s take a look at how this writer sees it all breaking down.

Division 2
Causeway Giants (0-1) @ North Dublin Pirates — Trinity Sports Grounds, 2pm
The Giants season opener against Trinity ended in an 18-8 loss, though there was a lot to take away from that fixture for the Causeway crew. Holding an athletic Trinity team to just 18 points shows just how much their defense can be a factor in this division, while players like Adam Smith shined in spurts on offense. The Pirates come into this game only opening their season after a yet-to-be rescheduled game vs Wexford Eagles was called off, so they will be eager themselves to get a win on the board and get back some of the momentum lost from that speedbump 2 weeks ago. Expect a close score here with both defenses swarming the opposing quarterbacks. In a game where neither team can really afford mistakes, it will likely be a game decided by the fewest mistakes and time of possession.

Division 1
Louth Mavericks @ NI Razorbacks (1-0) — Newforge Playing Grounds, 2pm
Really difficult to project how this game goes. On one hand, you have a Mavericks team that swept this series last season, that finished 7-1 in the regular season and made the bowl game. On the other, there’s a Razorbacks team that kept things within reach in both losses to the Mavericks in 2022 and have since had some major transfers in and, perhaps most importantly, already have a big win under their belt against a 2022 Division 2 opponent. The Mavericks will be itching to start their 2023 campaign off with a highlight victory here, but the Razorbacks aren’t exactly going to just let that happen either — after dominating in the trenches in their 22-6 win over the Jets 3 weeks ago, the Razorbacks will be going to that plan of attack here. The ability to get the ball into the hands of skill players like 2022 standout Brendan Simms may make or break this game for the Louth outfit.

Premier Division
Westmeath Minotaurs @ Craigavon Cowboys — People’s Park Portadown, 2pm
We go from 2 games with 1 team kicking off their season to a game where both teams are opening their 2023 campaigns. The hosts will want to quickly erase last year’s season from memory, when they started 2-0 before losing their remaining 6 games straight. With QB Peter Loughran now operating as Head Coach, there will be a spotlight on the Cowboys all season long as to how this effects performances and results on the field. The Minotaurs, meanwhile, come into this one after their weather-delayed Gameweek 2 game pushed their season opener to this weekend. The 2022 Division 1 champs take the trip to Portadown with a bit more momentum on their side than the hosts, but an historical head-to-head advantage, having never lost to their visitors this weekend. Another close game is likely here, so another tough game to call — historical h2h vs recent form, can Craigavon start off strong against a familiar opponent, or do the Minotaurs finally get one up on the Cowboys? 

Dublin Rebels (1-0) @ Belfast Knights — Malone RFC, 2pm
The final game on the slate this Sunday, the Rebels march up to Belfast after a statement win in Gameweek 1 @ UCD. After scoring 40 points against 2022’s National Champions, it’s hard not to see a similar offensive performance in this one, given how this fixture played out last season (30-7 Rebels). QB Ty Henry will likely be telling his offense to keep the foot on the gas to not lose focus after their great start on March 5th, and with the wealth of talent they have on that depth chart they’ll be sure to earn their reps in this one. The Knights, meanwhile, face a tough task after having any wave of momentum they were carrying into this season subdued by the aforementioned @ Minotaurs game delay. The Knights need to put up a good showing here to put the rest of the league on notice that they will put up a fight in every game this season, and perhaps show themselves that they are not just “survivors” from the 2022 campaign. While a Rebels win may be a popular pick (and perhaps the likely outcome), the Knights keeping things close here would be a massive statement from a team in need of gritty performances.

Writer’s Predictions
Giants 14-12 Pirates
Mavericks 13-24 Razorbacks
Minotaurs 23-20 Cowboys
Rebels 30-14 Knights