By Nick Sullivan
Early Kick off 2pm
Well, only five games to go now as Blackheath hit the road again to a venue that has not been the happiest of hunting grounds over the last couple of seasons.
An early start awaits as the Southeast London side head to deepest Leicestershire and the campus ground of Loughborough Students (15th). The university side have been stuck at the foot of the table for quite some time, but had a glimmer of hope last time out as they defeated Sale FC and, getting a 4-try bonus point in the process, lifted themselves to 15th place. There is still plenty of work to do if they are to avoid the drop but the equal highest number of bonus points in the league (22, as do Ampthill), 16 of which are 4-try jobs, has left them in with chance. The visitors can expect a stiff test of their own form tomorrow.
National One as at Friday 22 March 2019
|1||Ampthill & District||25||18||1||6||767||479||288||17||5||96|
|6||Darlington Mowden Park||25||12||1||12||624||651||-27||13||5||68|
Past Meetings and Recent Results
This fixture has been on the list for the last six seasons, since the Students’ promotion for the 2012/13 season. It’s one of those odd fixtures in which Blackheath has a better away than home record. Overall, its won 7, drawn 2, lost 4, although the record in Leicestershire is 4 wins, a draw and a loss. Having said that, Loughborough have the better of recent year. Whilst the visitors in red and black won the reverse fixture at Well Hall 39 (5) – 32 (5) back in November, for the two prior years, they have lost 3 and drawn one, a record they will be looking to straighten slightly tomorrow.
Despite some solid performances, Loughborough have spent much of the season rooted to the bottom of the table. That changed in their last match though, as an impressive 33 (5) – 17 (3) home win over Sale pulled them off the bottom and into 15th place. Whether a vein of form has come too late remains to be seen, but their season is clearly not over yet. That victory aside, the match prior to that, on 2 March, saw them go down 30 (5) – 29 (4) away at fellow strugglers Moseley, albeit they garnered 2 valuable bonus points from the trip. On 16 February, they hosted in-form Rosslyn Park and, unfortunately, left campus with nothing as they fell 20 (3) – 46 (7) to a strong west London side.
Match Day Details
Kick off on campus is at the slightly earlier time of 2pm. The man in the middle is James Clarke, ably assisted around the edges by Luke Haskins and Simon Bourne.
The weather in Leicestershire looks set to be dry and fairly bright but a little chillier then the last couple of days. The temperature should reach around 10 degrees for kick off with only the lightest of north-easterly breezes.
Blackheath First XV V Loughborough Students AWAY 23 March 2019
15. Leo FIELDING
14. Jake LLOYD
13. Henry STAFF
12. Markus BURCHAM (Capt)
11. Ben RANSOM
10. Mark COOKE
9. Jack DALY
1. Tom WILLIAMS
2. Mike PERKS
3. Danny HERRIOTT
4. Tom STRADWICK
5. Josh PETERS
6. Anders NILSSON
7. Harry BATE
8. Andrew DAISH
16. Harry FRY
17. George DAVIS
18. Matt MILES
19. Joe TARRANT
20. Elliot CLEMENTS-HILL
Around the Grounds
As for the rest of ‘em, top of the shop Ampthill (1st) will hope to retain pole position but face a potential banana skin as they travel north to Darlington Mowden Park (6th) although the Bedfordshire side should still have the bit between their teeth and be favourite to take the points.
Waiting for a slip up are Old Elthamians (2nd) who have home advantage as they face Cambridge (12th). Games between these two are generally but the Southeast London mob should be favourite as they look to recover from a disappointing loss last time out. Equal on points with OEs are Rosslyn Park (3rd) who have home advantage as they host Plymouth Albion (8th).
Sixteen points behind 4th placed Blackheath are Rotherham (5th) who are most punters’ bet to heap more misery on visiting Caldy (14th), who dropped into the relegation zone last time out. The two league newcomers Chinnor (7th) and Sale FC (11th) face off in Oxfordshire. The home side look likely to finish mid-table, but their visitors have the spur of not being clear of the relegation battle. Two teams side by side in the table square off as Bishop’s Stortford (10th) host Cinderford (9th).
Finally, at the wrong end of the table, Birmingham Moseley (13th) look to drag themselves further out of danger as they welcome Esher (16th) to Billesley Common.
Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!