Andy Thompson's late tip-in against Worcester all but secured the title for the Eagles, says Daniel Routledge
Last Updated: 10/04/12 10:09am
Our televised game this week between Newcastle and Worcester will go down as one of the best of the season.
The game had everything; unbelievable shots, temper tantrums and a stunning finish, capped by Andy Thompson's tip-in with two seconds to go, which won the Eagles the game and essentially the title.
Of course, we didn't know it at the time, but coupled with Plymouth's defeat at Guildford on Sunday, Thompson's late score has put the Eagles on the brink of a record fifth title.
They might not even need another win, if the Raiders lose at Leicester on Wednesday night, Newcastle will have secured their third trophy of the season without even playing.
Whilst the Raiders giving up an 18-point second-half lead to lose by seven to the Heat has ensured a somewhat anti-climatic end to the title race, it has reinvigorated the battle for the runners-up spot.
Now second is still second, but given the fixture list it is an intriguing battle between three teams who've never finished that high before.
Plymouth go to Leicester on Wednesday, Leicester then head to Worcester on Saturday and then the Wolves are in Devon on Sunday.
As things stand there is just one defeat separating the three sides and as such it could all come down to the head-to-head records between the teams.
The Raiders have already claimed the win over Leicester, with a 2-0 lead, the Riders have beaten the Worcester, again they're 2-0 ahead, whilst the Wolves have the tiebreaker with the Raiders thanks to two wins in their league meetings with Plymouth.
It's not beyond the realms of possibility of a three-way tie that might ultimately come down to basket difference to sort them out.
Again, you could argue what difference does it make, but as well as making history for their respective clubs, there is, of course, the small matter of the play-off match-ups that come with where you finish in the table.
Would Leicester want to play Glasgow, given they've lost to them twice at John Sandford this season? Would Plymouth want to meet the Heat, given Sunday's defeat was their second in Guildford? And would Worcester want to have to play in Sheffield, having lost twice at the EIS during their league campaign? I doubt it, or at least, there are match-ups they'd prefer.
The drama continues at the other end of the play-off picture as well, although it now looks like a three-way battle for one place as Cheshire, Milton Keynes and Mersey all look to secure a spot in the post-season.
Now last week I wrote the Tigers off, and I'll still be surprised to see them sneak above the line, but maybe Leicester can do them a favour by beating Plymouth on Wednesday.
If the title is already secured, the Tigers might have a sniff of a chance of an upset on Tyneside, the Eagles might just ease off a little, although doubtless they won't want a defeat to mark the night they get their hands on the silverware. You never know.
All in all, there is still plenty to play for on the penultimate weekend of the regular season.