The Big Match: Esher v Blackheath

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by Nick Sullivan

 

Can Club Eeees past their Opponents?

Weeeell, brooding rain clouds earlier in the week along with Mrs S’ suggestion that we get a duvet out of the cupboard point to the long hot summer having peaked.  Just in time to make sure your supporter-rather-than-player sized top (I think they have extra stomach room for those of us that still have a six-pack but have misplaced the plastic stringy thing that holds them all together) has had its once a season wash, your voice is finely tuned to bellow mode, and you’re wearing your lucky pants the right way round.

The new season kicks off with Blackheath straight on the road with the – relatively – short trip round the M25 to Hersham where they face old friends at Esher RFC.  Ricky Nebbett’s side finished ninth last season and will be looking to go significantly better this time out.

 

Ins and Outs

So, the spotters guide for the new season.  Sadly it doesn’t come with one of those silhouette chart things, but I’m sure you’ll be able to work out who’s who.

Joining the front row are props Tom Williams from Rotherham, Phil Ackuaku from Coventry Academy and Broadstreet and Jake Buckingham returning to his old club from Bath Uni.  Packing down behind them in the engine room is Josh Peters from Northampton Academy.

Out back sees the vastly experienced No 9 Stef Liebenberg pull on the black and red hoops.  He is supported by fellow scrum-half Jack Daly and winger Craig Dowsett, who both make the trip from Old Albanian, and full backs Nick Foster (also OAs) and Elliot Clements-Hill from Bedford.

Leaving Well Hall are Josh Davies, who takes a break for work commitments and CJ Osazuwa, who has moved to the West Midlands.  Props Hayden King and Kieran Scutt move to Bedford and Old Elthamians respectively, and Tom Chapman is putting in a stint at Tonbridge Judds.  Sam Evans is on loan at Canterbury and George Baker joins Sidcup.  And…possibly in action tomorrow…the little and large team of Jack Walsh and Devin Montgomery head to Esher.  Good luck to all the guys in their future careers.

Some players remain out from injuries received last season, so here’s hoping they recover before too long – Geoff Griffiths, Jamie Davies, Chris Sewell and James Catt.

 

The League

National One as at Friday 30 August 2018

Ok, well there’s not much point in a league table quite yet, unless you need an alphabetical list of who else we’re meeting this season.  So…

 

Psn Club Pld W D L F A PD TBP LBP Points
1 Ampthill & District 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Birmingham Moseley 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Bishops Stortford 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Blackheath 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Caldy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Cambridge 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Chinnor 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Cinderford 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Esher 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Darlington Mowden Park 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Loughborough Students 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Old Elthamians 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Plymouth Albion 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Rosslyn Park 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Rotherham 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Sale FC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

 

Past Meetings and Recent Results

 

There is quite a full form book between these two sides – last season’s encounters bringing the total to 20 league fixtures since the turn of the century.

Honours are even at 10 wins a piece and last year’s fixtures both went the way of the home sides, the wheels coming off Blackheath’s impressive to start to last season when they visited Molesey Road, falling 28 – 19 to their hosts on 28 October.  Revenge later though, as Club pipped their Surrey opponents 29 – 28 at Well Hall in mid-February.

Esher rounded off their pre-season preparations last weekend with a full-blooded encounter and only a narrow 26 – 24 home loss to Welsh Premiership side Bedwas.

 

Match Day Details

Kick off at Molesey Road (KT12 3PF) is at 3pm.  Brushing the summer dust off to take charge of proceedings is Jonathan Cook, ably assisted round the edges by Stephen Light and Tracy Pettingale.

The slightly bad news for anyone using public transport is that South Western Railway suffers from strike action tomorrow, meaning a reduced service on the line to Hersham.  Additionally, there is a family fun day at nearby Sandown Racecourse, meaning that the line could be busier than usual.

Once you’ve negotiated that little lot, Mother Nature will reward you with a pretty bright afternoon, temperatures up to around 21/22 degrees and a gentle 7mph Southerly breeze.

If you are not travelling to Surrey 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 pm.

 

Team News

 

Blackheath First XV V Esher  AWAY 1 September 2018

 

15 Elliot Clements-Hill
14 Craig Dowsett
13 Markus Burcham (Capt)
12 Leo Fielding
11 Jake Lloyd
10 Joe Tarrant
9 Stef Liebenberg
1 Tom Williams
2 Matt Miles
3 Danny Herriott
4 Neale Patrick
5 Josh Peters
6 Tom Stradwick
7 Harry Bate
8 Tom Baldwin
16 Mike Perks
17 Phil Ackuaku
18 Freddie Owen
19 Jack Daly
20 Mark Cooke

 

 

Around the Grounds

As for the other runners and riders, one of the pre-season favourites, Plymouth Albion, kick off with a home fixture against newcomers Chinnor.  Another strong favourite, Darlington Mowden Park, head south to Silver Leys to take on Bishops Stortford.  At the same time, and not too far away, Ampthill host Loughborough Students at Dillingham Park.  Relegated Rotherham Titans start life in National One with a home fixture against Old Elthamians, subject to Titans’ ground-sharing cricket club whipping off the bails and shifting their own home tie to an alternate time or venue.

Promoted Cinderford entertain Rosslyn Park at Dockhams Road and fellow promotees Sale FC travel to Cambridge.  Finally, in a Sunday kick off, Caldy welcome Moseley to Paton Field.

 

Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!

 

Graham Cox

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