The Big Match: Blackheath v Hull Ionians

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Club Look to Give Hull the Hump

by Nick Sullivan

The good people of Eltham will be on their guard this weekend lest any stray camels do something unforgiveable on the front lawn. Surely you can picture the scene…the sirocco scours its way across the plains of Humberside, whipping up the Hull sand as it goes….but as it clears a faint clatter rises slowly to a crescendo as appearing down the end of Brough High Street from the thinning dust cloud is Blackheath’s opposition in the form of a legion of warrior tribesmen astride their camels.

Led by Colonel Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif the mighty army will make its way over the bridge and down the A15, stopping briefly at the Peterborough Service Wadi to take on water, before heading on south to meet the infidels at the Well Hall Oasis.

Brough High Street, Saturday morning*:-
Hull1

*Look effendi, it was either that or a picture of him at a station in a long coat and woolly hat snogging Julie Christie, right**?
** Although that’s the one that would go some way to explain the whole Hull thing, but maybe we’ll save that for another day.

Sadly, in reality Omar left us for a better place (yes, even than Hull) a couple of years ago, and Peter probably tarried at the wadi longer than he should have done, but their memories live on. And even in their absence, the remainder of the Hull tribe will be joining us this weekend for the mighty clash that is the Battle of Aqaba…or Blackheath (6th) v Hull Ionians (15th) as it is known locally.

Leading the charge now are DoR and Head Coach Alex ‘Lawrence of Arabia ’ Crockett, and Assistant DoR Steve ‘Sherif Ali’ Townend. Amongst those joining the raiding party for general adventure and derring-do this season are: props Will Dennis (Harrogate), Ben Bell (Sandal) and Mike Bradshaw (Wharedale); lock Ed Falkingham (Doncaster); back row Tom O’Donnell (Otley); centre/wing James Tincknell (Coventry and briefly seen in the red and black during the 2014/15 season).

And if you really are struggling with what’s going on, here’s the important piece of the jigsaw.  Its a Hull scarf:-

Hull2

The League

National One as at Friday 29 September 2017

League

Past Meetings and Recent Results

Blackheath are in the fortunate position of having won all 6 previous encounters between the two sides. It would be foolish to read too much into that though. Comfortable victories in Ionians’ first foray to Level 3 in the 13/14 season were replaced with something quite different last time out. The 16/17 encounters were both very tight affairs (30 – 32 on Humberside, 31 – 29 at Well Hall) and the Southeast London mob were lucky to walk away with bonus point victories on both occasions, something which Hull will undoubtedly be looking to rectify this weekend.

This season hasn’t started as our guests would have liked and they are gunning for their first win. Heavily beaten by most punters’ favourites Coventry in week one, their last three games have been far closer affairs – at least on paper. That said, in the first of those, on 9 September, I’s entertained the only side currently with a 100% record, Darlington Mowden Park. The visitors largely controlled territory and possession, their bigger pack dominating the Yorkshiremen. Only wayward passing and some off target kicking prevented a bigger gap than the final score suggests, ending up at Hull 15 (2) – 27 (4) DMP.

The following week, Ionians travelled to Billesley Common in the West Midlands to face Moseley. The Mose defence adeptly soaked up Ionians’ pressure in the first half and they went into the break with a 12 – 3 advantage. Two further tries shortly after half time appeared to have sealed the result for the home side but Hull were far from down and a change of tactics in the final quarter saw them spreading the ball to the wide men. Two tries for I’s set the home nerves on edge but the visitors couldn’t maintain the pressure for all the remaining time. One lapse allowed Mose a penalty to the corner followed by a catch and drive to push the score out again and although I’s clawed a try back through the wings again, the home side were able to seal the match at the death with a 6th try. Final score Moseley 38 (6) – 24 (3) Hull Ionians.

Back at home last time out, I’s hosted Old Albanian at Brantingham Park. A bit of a see-saw game between two nervous sides, each gifting the other possession in the first half as often as they were using it themselves. I’s eventually settled and put together good passages of play across the team and some deserved scores saw them two points ahead with 5 minutes on the clock. Disappointingly, I’s couldn’t quite keep their discipline or concentration and allowed their guests not one but two tries in that period, robbing themselves not only of their first win but also an extra losing bonus point, leaving them with a solitary 4 try bonus. Full time: Hull Ionians 26 (4) – 36 (6) Old Albanian.

Match Day Details

Kick off at Well Hall is at 3 pm. Officiating, making sure no one poisons the wadi and generally keeping an eye out for camel dung is Sara Cox, ably assisted around the edges by David Parsons & Jeffrey Highcock.

Mother Nature says that there is only a limited chance of sandstorms, and instead will likely visit us with a plague of light cloud, some sunshine, temperatures around 16 degrees and a vicious 8 mph westerly breeze.

If you are not visiting Well Hall this weekend, don’t forget the always excellent Graham Cox on BBC Radio Kent (96.7 FM, 104.2 FM, 774 AM, DAB & On-line) who provides live score updates and reports, post-match interviews, plus a full round-up National League results for all Kent clubs around 5.45 pm.

Team News

Blackheath First XV V Hull Ionians HOME 30 September 2017

15. Leo FIELDING
14. Tom CHAPMAN
13. Markus BURCHAM (Capt)
12. Mark COOKE
11. Jake LLOYD
10. Joe TARRANT
9. Josh DAVIES
1. Hayden KING
2. Harry FRY
3. Danny HERRIOTT
4. Chukwuma OSAZUWA
5. Tom STRADWICK
6. Freddie OWEN
7. Hugh MCCORMICK-HOUSTON
8. Tom BALDWIN

16. Mike PERKS
17. Kieron SCUTT
18. Sam FARMER
19. Jake BEDDING
20. Alex PICKERSGILL

Around the Grounds

Top of the shop Darlington Mowden Park (1st) haven’t dropped a point yet after their impressive win away at Moseley last weekend. They are favourites to maintain that record as they return to the Northern Echo Arena this weekend to welcome Caldy (7th). Their nearest rivals, and Blackheath’s conqueror’s last weekend, Coventry (2nd) travel to the leafy Surrey suburbs to take on Esher (10th).

Plymouth Albion (3rd), fresh from a comprehensive 68 – 15 win over Fylde, travel the 240-odd miles up the M5 to take on Loughborough (14th), the Students looking to recover from a 36 – 20 loss away at OEs last weekend. The closest thing to a local derby, and also contender for match of the day given their respective league positions, sees Ampthill (6th) travel a mere 40 miles southeast to face Bishops Stortford (4th). Amps, confidence soaring after last week’s 45 – 5 thrashing of Esher, are likely to be favourites over their Hertfordshire neighbours, who showed great character and determination to snatch a 24 – 31 win away at Ross Park.

A tricky game to call in mid-table sees Cambridge (9th) welcome Old Elthamians (8th) to Volac Park for the first time since March 2016. The four previous meetings at National League level have not seen these two separated by more than one score at the final whistle.

Getting to the wrong end of the league, Rosslyn Park (11th) are hoping to kick-start their season with a visit to struggling Fylde (16th). Park will be looking to rub salt in the wounds of a very out-of-sorts Lancastrian outfit who are losing by a 30 point average margin so far this year. Finally, Old Albanian (13th), enjoying their first win of the campaign over Hull Ionians last time out, welcome Birmingham Moseley (12th) to Woollams Fields.

Heathens

The Heathens endured the same fate as their counterparts last weekend, falling 52 – 19 away at Coventry in the Zoo Shield League. The result leaves them 4th in the table, behind London Scottish, Old Elthamians and Richmond Vikings.

This time out, the boys return home for a clash against 6th placed Jersey. Kick off at Rectory Field is 12.30 pm

Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!

Graham Cox

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