by Nick Sullivan
The season reaches the halfway point this weekend and what better match to mark the occasion than Blackheath’s first ever league encounter with local rivals Old Elthamians (7th).
Elthamians joined National One as victor over Sale FC in the National Two North/South play off last season. Any thoughts they might struggle at this level – particularly having lost their first two matches – were soon abandoned as the season warmed up. They have shown themselves perfectly adaptable to the demands of Level Three, playing some very good rugby in the process, exemplified in some ways by one of their losses rather than some of the stonking high-scoring victories. They are one of the sides who came closest to beating Coventry – only losing out 16 -20 at home in mid-November – no mean feat given Cov’s runaway position at the top of the table.
Teams may change, but in OE’s recent history there is one rock. Former Old Dunstonian and current Director of Rugby Gavin Lach has been in his post since OE’s were in London Two way back in the 2010/11 season, steering the club through several promotions since that time. Whilst he might not wish to admit it, he deserves a great deal of credit for his contribution towards the club’s current position.
Visitors to College Meadow tomorrow my also notice some familiar faces…the Head Coach berth is now taken by Sam Howard and the Team Manager spot occupied by Ally Vanner. Other than that, Truman Sullivan and Tom White have graced OE’s starting line-up this season, although whether are available tomorrow remains to be seen.
So why not make the short trip down the road to support the boys tomorrow…
National One as at Friday 15 December 2017
|2||Darlington Mowden Park||14||10||1||3||400||310||90||11||2||0||55|
|5||Ampthill and District||14||8||1||5||367||274||93||8||4||0||46|
Past Meetings and Recent Results
Aficionados will remember Kent Cup clashes over the years, although the two sides have never met in league action.
As for their recent form, OEs have two wins and a loss to their name. Last time out, they travelled to St Albans to face the other old boys’ side. They returned home with a well-deserved 15 (2) – 24 (3) victory over an Albanian side fortified with a number of Sarries’ loanees. A similarly strong performance the prior weekend saw them thump visiting Moseley 47 (7) – 17 (3) at College Meadow.
The only blight on their recent record came at the back end of November when they came off second best away to a fired-up Hull Ionians’ side, returning with empty coffers following a 27 (4) – 11 (1) defeat.
Match Day Details
Kick off at College Meadow is at 2pm. Ensuring fair play is Veryan Boscawen ably assisted by Simon Dodd and Tracy Pettingale.
Doom and gloom claims that this will be the coldest winter since the last cold winter may or may not be true, but it will be chilly tomorrow, so wrap up warm. Given where temperatures have been over the last few days, a light overnight frost is possible although that should lift in the morning. By the time the sun passes the yardarm, it should be sunny and dry, although the thermometer will only creep up to 3 or 4 degrees, accompanied by an 8/9mph westerly breeze.
If you cannot make this weekend’s match, 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.
Blackheath First XV V Old Elthamians AWAY 16 December 2017
|13||Markus BURCHAM (Capt)|
Around the Grounds
A whole bunch of potential corkers this weekend in the final match of the season’s first half. Top of the table Coventry (1st) make the long trip to their closest league rivals Darlington Mowden Park (2nd), where a win will give them 15 points + of daylight ahead of the chasing pack.
Plymouth Albion (4th), who suffered a postponement at Moseley last weekend, hope to pick up some momentum as they welcome Old Albanian (15th) to Brickfields. Moseley (8th) themselves travel to Rosslyn Park (14th) who, coincidentally, were another victim of the weather last time out. Bishops Stortford (6th) make the 30-odd mile trip to local-ish rivals Cambridge (9th), whilst Esher (10th) trek slightly further and head northwest towards Caldy (11th).
Bottom placed, although by no means adrift, Fylde (16th) had a near miss, going down 10 – 13 against DMP last weekend and will look to improve on that result as they visit Loughborough Students (12th). Finally, the last of the postponement victims, Hull Ionians (13th) face a tricky ask as they travel to Ampthill (5th).
The Heathens maintain their 5th position in the Zoo League following an impressive 47 – 26 win at home to London Scottish last weekend. This time out, they also make the short trip down the road to take on second placed Old Elthamians at College Meadow. Kick off is at 1 pm.
Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!