by Nick Sullivan
Time to put the winter woollies on for the first away trip of 2017 as Blackheath make the 100-odd mile trip to Coventry (6th).
Despite sitting in sixth place on 51 points (W10, D1, L6), just outside the chasing pack, Coventry have had an impressive season to date, with their Butts Park Arena being an almost impregnable fortress. Amongst a number of impressive performances on home turf, they have scalped both Moseley and Plymouth Albion. Additionally, they are arguably the side who have come closest to defeating runaway leaders Hartpury, a mere 3 points separating the two sides in early October. Indeed, that loss is their only home defeat to date.
A well-balanced side, Cov are strong across the pitch with some experienced old heads working well with some younger players and a sprinkling of dual reggers from Wasps. Blackheath have a quite the job ahead of them if they are to breach the Coventry walls this weekend.
Past Meetings and Recent Results
Coventry hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for Blackheath since the former’s return to Level Three for the 2010/11 season. Four losses – the most memorable (or forgettable, depending how you look at it) was an awful 63 -21 defeat in October 2013 – are only partially offset by two wins. The positives are that the men from Southeast London won the most recent of those clashes – a fairly slender 16 – 24 victory in December 2015 and also the reverse fixture earlier this season, in which they triumphed 42 – 5 over a very out-of-sorts Cov side.
More recently, Coventry’s last three saw a 20-all draw (2 tries apiece) away at Darlington Mowden Park on 10 December, followed by an impressive 26 – 23 (also 2 tries apiece) win over local rivals Moseley on the weekend before Christmas. Their first clash of 2017 was the 90 mile trip to bottom placed Macclesfield last week, an encounter in which they took a bonus point 14 – 37 (2 tries to 5) win, which ensured that they stayed in 6th place.
Match Day Details
Kick-off at the Butts Park Arena is at 3pm. Keeping everyone honest is Jamie Leahy, assisted round the edges by Jonathan Petzing and Richard Swaffield.
It will stay cold tomorrow with the possibility of wintry showers, although the likelihood is that Coventry itself will be bathed in sunshine for most of the day. Temperatures are unlikely to get much beyond 4 degrees and be accompanied by a 12 mph north-westerly.
If you are not travelling to the BPA 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 after 5.00 pm.
Blackheath First XV V Coventry AWAY 14 January 2017
15. Geoff GRIFFITHS
14. Leo FIELDING
13. Markus BURCHAM (Capt)
12. Mark COOKE
11. Jake LLOYD
10. Simon WHATLING
9. Sam EYDMANN
1. Aston CROALL
2. Mike PERKS
3. Terry READ
4. Gregor GILLANDERS
5. Devin MONTGOMERY
6. Tom BALDWIN
7. Chris WALKER
8. Anders NILSSON
16. George BAKER
17. Kieron SCUTT
18. Freddie OWEN
19. Jamie DAVIES
20. Tom CHAPMAN
Around the Grounds
Last weekend’s opponents Fylde (12th) return home where they have to fence off the unwelcome advances of still unbeaten Hartpury (1st). A scant 23 points behind the leaders, Moseley (2nd) are also on the road as they travel to the far north to face Blaydon (15th).
Plymouth Albion (4th) hope to bounce back from last week’s narrow loss away at Rosslyn Park with a home tie against struggling Esher (13th). Similarly needing to recover are Ampthill (5th) who are at home to the dynamic Loughborough Students (8th). Rosslyn Park (7th) probably start as favourites to do a job on visiting Old Albanian (9th). Immediately behind OAs in the league are Cambridge (10th) who have home advantage over the side immediately behind them, Darlington Mowden Park (11th).
Hull Ionians (14th) have a chance to drag themselves out of the relegation zone if they can achieve a bonus point home win over Macclesfield (16th) and if Esher fail to gain any points in their match at Plymouth.
If you’re not heading to the West Midlands tomorrow you can make the shorter trip to Rectory Field and catch the Heathens as they take on Cambridge. Kick-off is at 2.00 pm
Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!