The Big Match: Fylde v Blackheath

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by Nick Sullivan

Well, if you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to have a moan at ERNIE about how you haven’t won a million on the premium bonds yet and are forced to make do with the occasional cheque for 25 quid landing on the doormat to make ends meet, this is the weekend to grasp the nettle.

Visit ERNIE’s home in Blackpool to remonstrate, pop down the road to Lytham Saint Annes (or is it Anne’s? I’m never quite sure) to make sure he’s not gone into hiding in his old home and, while you’re there take in some rugby, as tomorrow the men from Southeast London hop on the train at Euston for the trip north to the Woodlands Memorial Ground, the home of old friends and sparring partners Fylde.

A number of new faces have made their way through the turnstile at the Woodlands this year. In the back line, look out for playmaker No 10 Greg Smith (Sedgley Park, Liverpool St Helens), wing Scott Armstrong (Leeds Academy, Northampton Saints and Moseley) and halfback Jack Harrison (Harper Adams University, Peebles, England Counties U20). In the engine room, Kiwi born lock Jack Turley (Heriots, Scotland Clubs XV) will no doubt feature along with a start for flanker Matt Lamprey (Sedgley Park) and the return to Fylde colours after several years absence for former Eccles’ prop Sam Simpson.

Coach Paul Arnold is quoted as saying his charges could ‘not play that badly again’ and has called for a backlash following a disappointing result away at Macclesfield last weekend, with a number of changes to his side. So Blackheath had best be on their guard if they are to come away with anything from this weekend’s clash.

Past Meetings and Recent Results

These two sides have been clashing heads in National One since the 2011/12 season. Fylde have by far the better record in the 10 matches to date, having won 7 to Club’s 2 and a single draw. Blackheath’s heaviest loss at the Woodlands was a 44 – 28 loss in April 2015.

Recent form, though, favours the visitors. Last season was Blackheath’s best in the series – a 34-all draw at Rectory Field in December, followed by their first win in 5 attempts at Fylde, where they triumphed 30 – 45 a scant five months ago.

The results, if not the performances, of our hosts’ early games of this campaign will have disappointed them by their own standards. Their opening match was a home tie in dreary conditions against newly arrived Birmingham Moseley. What turned out to be a close game could have gone either way, but it was visiting Mose who played the conditions better and ran out 20 – 25 victors.

Last weekend, Fylde travelled to newly promoted Macclesfield and were put to the sword by a larger and hungrier side on the day. Two driving mauls and poor defence at a ruck saw Macc race to a 21 – 3 lead inside 15 minutes. A Fylde comeback provided some cheer but was fairly short lived as the Cheshire side dominated most of the game, particularly at the breakdown. A late Fylde surge added some respectability to the final score, but it was too little too late as the home side ran out 44 – 22 winners.

Match Day Details

Kick off at the Woodlands Memorial Ground is 3pm. Checking the bonds this weekend is referee Jamie Leahy, ably assisted by Paul Fincken and David Lodge.

It’ll be a few degrees cooler in Fylde than it has been in sunny Southeast London over the last few days (Friday excluded of course, for anyone traipsing through the rain this morning). It should stay sunny with some cloud and temperatures up to around 17 degrees accompanied by a 10 mph northwesterly.

If you are cannot make the game 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 around 5.15 pm.

Team News

Blackheath First XV V Fylde AWAY 17 September 2016

13. Markus BURCHAM (Capt)
12. Mark COOKE
11. Chris KNIGHT
10. Simon WHATLING
9. Jack WALSH
1. Aston CROALL
3. Reece CONLON
6. Freddie OWEN
7. Chris WALKER

16. Harry FRY
17. Ben COOPER
18. Chris SEWELL
20. Jamie DAVIES

Around the Grounds

Around the land…Blaydon (16th) look to get their season started and will fancy their chances against visiting Loughborough Students (13th). Ampthill (3rd) hope to build on early season success and make it three from three as Darlington Mowden Park (9th) come calling.

A potential corker as the top two from last season’s National Two meet each other at Volac Park as Cambridge (8th) play host to Old Albanian (5th). The other promoted side, Macclesfield (6th), have a tough trip south to impressive looking Coventry (4th), whilst last weekend’s opponents, Esher (10th), are back at home in preparation for top of the shop Hartpury College (1st).

The archivists may need to turn to the record books to establish whether Moseley’s (2nd) 130-odd mile trip across the country this weekend is the first time they have ever travelled to Hull Ionians (7th). No such historic demands for the final match of this round though, where mis-firing Rosslyn Park (14th) head south west to meet Plymouth Albion (11th).


If you are not travelling north, the Heathens are in action at Rectory Field in their third match of this season’s Zoo Sports Shield campaign. They currently sit second (W1, L1) behind Barnes, and this weekend welcome Henley Wanderers to SE3. Kick off is at 3pm.

Blackheath Heathens XV V Henley HOME Saturday 17 September

15. Steve MCNAMARA
14. Jake LLOYD
13. Mike MVELASE
12. Joe MCEVOY
11. Matt WEPKE
10. Ian CROSS
9. Sam EYDMANN (Capt)

1. Chris SHORTER
3. George BAKER
6. Ruairi FALLON
8. Anders NILSSON

16. Conor MITCHELL
17. Bertie HASKINS
18. Ryan WARD
19. Robbie SMITH
20. Jake BEDDING
22. Terry READ

Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!

Graham Cox

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