by Nick Sullivan
Well, we’re in the home straight now. Three games to go and Blackheath (7th) looking to arrest their disappointing recent run as they head 200-and-odd miles north west to Cheshire to take on Macclesfield (16th).
Despite now being mathematically relegated, The Blues seem to be playing some of their best rugby of the campaign now, having run some very good sides close in recent weeks. Blackheath’s 55 – 10 in early December is now a distant memory and the men in red and black will have to be on form if they want to return home with anything other than a headache.
Past Meetings and Recent Results
Macclesfield just about hold the whip hand in meetings between the two clubs – with 5 wins to Blackheath’s four since they first met in November 2010. Three of those five have come at Priory Lane, although the most recent contest at that venue witnessed Blackheath’s only win there – a 13 – 25 victory in February 2015.
Looking more recently, an impressive performance for the home crowd on 11th March gave Macc a glimpse of hope as they beat Loughborough Students 42 (6) – 38 (6) at home. Too little too late though, as a fortnight later they were – just – edged out 28 (4) – 24 (4) away at 4th placed Moseley. And as if that wasn’t warning enough for the men from Southeast London, last time out they were again only just beaten in a nerve wracking 18 (3) – 21 (3) home defeat to Plymouth Albion.
Match Day Details
Kick off at Priory Park is at 3pm. The man with an eye on the time, having travelled 7,000 miles to be here, is Uruguayan referee (well, actually, he spends his time in and around the capital at the moment) Luis Caviglia, ably assisted by Tudor Griffiths and Jason Garrick (who haven’t travelled quite that far). For anybody worried about communication (despite his English being excellent)…today’s interesting fact is that in South America, referees tend to adopt English technical terms (scrum, knock on, line out, etc) whilst officiating anyway.
The weather should perk up for the weekend, even in Cheshire. Early cloud is expected to pass giving way to a bright sunny day and temperatures reaching the heady heights of 17 degrees (cloudy and 25 degrees in Montevideo) by kick off. With only the gentlest of southerly breezes to worry about, it promises to be a fine day for rugby.
If you are not travelling to Cheshire 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 Macclesfield AWAY 8 April 2017
15. Mike MVELASE
14. Tom CHAPMAN
13. Markus BURCHAM (Capt)
12. Alex PICKERSGILL
11. Jake LLOYD
10. Mark COOKE
9. Jake BEDDING
1. Aston CROALL
2. Harry FRY
3. George BAKER
4. Freddie OWEN
5. Tom STRADWICK
6. Chris WALKER
7. Jesse LISTON
8. Tom BALDWIN
16. Bertie HASKINS
17. Kieron SCUTT
18. Gregor GILLANDERS
19. Simon WHATLING
20. Dan HAMILTON
Around the Grounds
Right, well elsewhere, the exciting stuff is at the bottom of the table. Blaydon (15th) will fancy they have a chance away at Cambridge (12th), whereas relegation rivals Hull Ionians (14th) have a much tougher prospect away at Rosslyn Park (6th). Fylde (13th), who are three points from mathematical safety, travel to Darlington Mowden Park (9th).
All this weekend’s other ties are between sides who are now safe from the drop. A mid-table battle pits Loughborough Students (10th) against visiting Esher (11th) whilst Old Albanian (8th) have home advantage over Coventry (6th).
At the top end of the table, Champions elect Hartpury (1st) take on Moseley (4th) and a possible corker in store for bragging rights between Plymouth Albion (2nd) who host Ampthill (3rd).
The Heathens disappointing run continued last weekend, being edged out 31 – 27 away to London Scottish. They are now 6th in the Zoo League. A couple of weeks off to recharge batteries now before an away clash with Worthing in a fortnight’s time.
Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!