The Big Match: Hull Ionians v Blackheath

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The chants of ‘Come on you Club’ did eventually stop reverberating around Well Hall last weekend, in time to be to be replaced with the strangely unseasonal old adage that one swallow does not make a summer.

Whilst the Faithful hope that Blackheath have rediscovered their mojo, the team know that it is back to the grind with a potentially difficult away to trip to the banks of the Humber and the Brantingham Lane home of Hull Ionians (14th) this weekend.  Whilst our hosts are struggling for form at the moment, matches between these two sides at Brough have been close fought affairs in the last couple of years and the home side could easily have taken the spoils in each the last two seasons.

 

The League

 

National One as at Friday 19 January 2018

Psn Club Pld W D L F A PD TBP LBP Ded Pts
1 Coventry 17 16 0 1 717 274 443 15 0 0 79
2 Darlington Mowden Park 16 12 1 3 468 317 151 13 2 0 65
3 Plymouth Albion 16 11 2 3 496 283 213 12 2 0 62
4 Ampthill and District 18 10 3 5 497 369 128 11 4 0 61
5 Blackheath 18 11 1 6 494 365 129 8 3 0 57
6 Old Elthamians 18 10 1 7 467 398 69 9 2 0 53
7 Bishop’s Stortford 17 10 1 6 452 403 49 6 4 0 52
8 Birmingham Moseley 17 8 1 8 389 485 -96 7 2 0 43
9 Cambridge 16 8 0 8 344 328 16 4 5 0 41
10 Caldy 17 7 0 10 438 414 24 8 5 0 41
11 Rosslyn Park 17 6 2 9 442 481 -39 8 3 0 39
12 Esher 18 5 1 12 460 548 -88 11 5 0 38
13 Loughborough Students 18 6 0 12 404 588 -184 5 3 0 32
14 Hull Ionians 17 4 0 13 375 583 -208 9 2 0 27
15 Old Albanian 18 4 1 13 330 559 -229 4 4 0 26
16 Fylde 18 3 0 15 235 613 -378 2 3 0 17

 

Past Meetings and Recent Results

This is the eighth meeting at National League level between these two sides.  The first meeting was at Rectory Field in November 2013 and, other than a brief gap in the 2014/15 season, they have continued ever since.  Blackheath hold the whip hand with 8 wins from 8, although the matches on Ionians’ home turf tend to be fairly close, Club, for example, only sneaking a 30 -32 win in their last encounter there back in October 2016.  This year’s reverse fixture occurred in the middle of Blackheath’s early season purple patch at the end of September and saw the home side run out 46 – 13 victors.

To underline the threat that Ionians pose at home, their 4 wins this season have all come on Humberside over Esher, Fylde, Cambridge and, most recently, Old Elthamians.  The last of those came at the end of November though, and our hosts are keen to put a recent run of poor results behind them give the Brantingham Lane crowd something to cheer.

Looking to I’s most recent matches, the pre-Christmas game saw them make the unenviable trip to DMP’s Northern Echo Arena on 23 December, losing out 26 (4) – 0 (0) to the currently 2nd placed side.  Returning home for the first game of the New Year, they fell 13 (1) – 29 (4) to 8th placed Moseley on 6 January.  On their travels again last time out, they visited currently 15th placed Old Albanians, eventually losing out a high-scoring encounter 50 (7) – 28 (4) to the Hertfordshire side.

 

Match Day Details

Kick off at Brantingham Lane is at 2pm and Tim Wigglesworth is ensuring fair play, assisted by Brendan Fitzmaurice and Alan Hughes.

The chilly weather is set to continue into the weekend.  There may be an overnight frost tonight and it should stay clear and dry but remain cold tomorrow.  Temperatures will struggle up to about 4 degrees, accompanied by a light 8mph westerly breeze.

Note: Hull Ionians have reported that the pitch is currently playable, but the club have warned an early morning pitch inspection may be necessary should conditions deteriorate.  Please check club and NCA websites if you are planning to travel.

If you are not travelling to Brough 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.

 

Team News

It was great to see Neale Patrick and CJ back in the engine room together last weekend and that partnership continues tomorrow.  The front row picked up a couple of knocks though, entailing some shuffling of the pack, and Ewan McQuillan joins the bench as injury cover.  The starting back line remains unchanged.

 

Blackheath First XV V Hull Ionians  AWAY 20 January 2018

 

15 Geoff GRIFFITHS
14 Jake LLOYD
13 Markus BURCHAM (Capt)
12 Leo FIELDING
11 Tom CHAPMAN
10 Joe TARRANT
9 Josh DAVIES
1 James HALLAM
2 Matt MILES
3 Kieron SCUTT
4 Neale PATRICK
5 CJ OSAZUWA
6 Tom STRADWICK
7 Harry BATE
8 Tom BALDWIN
16 Harry FRY
17 Ewan McQUILLAM
18 Freddie OWEN
19 Anders NILSSON
20 Mark COOKE

 

Around the Grounds

Despite last weekend’s defeat, Coventry (1st) still have 14 points’ clear water at the top of the table and return home to take on Esher (12th) at the BPA this weekend.  EEE’s hope of victory over Ampthill last week was dashed with the final kick of the game which saw Amps snatch a 29-all draw.

Darlington Mowden Park (2nd) recorded a comfortable looking 42-7 victory at home to Moseley last weekend and, this time out, travel southwest to the Wirral’s Paton Field to face Caldy (10th).  Whilst their away form is questionable, DMP probably start as favourites in this clash.  Hot on their heels are Plymouth Albion (3rd), looking to follow up last Saturday’s solid defence stint – nilling Fylde 0 -26 – with a similar performance at home to Loughborough Students (13th).

Ampthill (4th) will fancy their chances with a local-ish derby, returning home to face Bishops Stortford (7th), who make the 30-odd mile journey to Dillingham Park.  Old Elthamians (6th), going great guns at the moment, will be most punters’ favourite to beat Cambridge (9th) in Southeast London although a word to the wary that matches between these two sides tend to be fairly close fought affairs.

Birmingham Moseley (8th) will be looking to make amends for last weekend’s heavy defeat at DMP by putting Old Albanian (15th) to the sword on Billesley Common, although their guests will have their tails up after an impressive win over Hull Ionians last time out.  Finally, improved Rosslyn Park (11th) will probably heap more misery on Fylde (16th) as the latter make the long trip to Southwest London.

 

Heathens

Unfortunately, the Heathens were unable to replicate the senior side’s performance last weekend, losing 19 – 60 to Coventry IIs.  Despite that, they maintain their 6th place in the Zoo League.  This time out, they avisit the Channel Islands to play Jersey, kick-off is at 1.30 pm.

 

Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!

Graham Cox

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