39. Bath Spa Bulldogs
SWAC 3-5-0 (8th) 120 PF 204PA 8 Games Played
Pipped to the post for #38 by an Immortals team that edged them out due to defensive performance, are the Bath Spa Bulldogs – one of the big climbers in this year’s rankings! 2011/12 saw them not only treble their wins total, but their points total too (up from a disastrous 38pts in 8 games last year) as the Bulldogs show some clear second-season growth. Most representative of this is their varsity performance against cross-city rivals and one-time teammates, the Bath Killer Bees: turning around a 43-0 blowout last season to return with a much tighter 27-12 loss that helped the Bees scrape into the playoffs in 2012. Improving from 5 shut-out losses to just the one this year, shows this is a young team capable of causing some upsets if it continues on this path of improvement.
One could be tempted to argue that their cunning home-field based ‘down-hill sweep’ aided in their production this year – but in fact their larger scores came in away games where their team-wide speed allowed their outside running to truly flow, compared to getting stuck-in-the-mud at their boggy, hillside, home ground. With significant ties to the BAFANL-associate Swansea Titans this summer, the Bulldogs are looking to maintain their improved form over the summer break.
Nonetheless, improvements in offence alone will not allow the Bulldogs to become competitors in a tough South West Conference. Their defence still struggled massively this year and while the addition of Worcester to their annual schedule will have brought a smile to the Bulldogs faces, in a conference with three of the top 20 defences in the nation? It’s likely to be a couple of years at least before these Bulldogs can think about postseason ball.