By Tom Little.
March 4 2013
including Coventry Rugby v Blackheath.
Fixtures 9th March
Blackheath v Coventry
Blaydon v Sedgley Park
Esher v Cambridge
Fylde v Rosslyn Park
Loughborough Students v Tynedale
Old Albanian v Ealing Tfs
Richmond v Macclesfield
Wharfedale v Cinderford
Round 24 sees some intriguing matches involving the bottom 5 sides, as they all scramble to avoid being in the final three. Pride of place must go to Macclesfield, now on a roll of 4 consecutive victories, and now only 4 points from initial safety. However they do face a tricky away fixture at Richmond, who although beaten last week at Rosslyn Park put up a close fight. Macclesfield might just edge it with their pack, but home advantage probably makes Richmond slight favourites.
Tynedale also now being sucked close to the relegation zone, being only 8 points ahead of Macclesfield also face a difficult away trip to Loughborough Students. The Students, who surprised many with their second half performance and away win at Blaydon, should be too strong for a Dale side who don’t always travel well.
Wharfedale the other side at risk here at least have a home fixture against Cinderford. The Foresters although not always travelling well do have the ability and speed to tackle any side, as Esher almost found to their cost last week. Wharfedale need to be on top of their game to give them more of a breathing space over Macclesfield.
Bottom side Cambridge face the unenviable task of visiting Esher, whose strong pack should prove too strong for a Cambridge side now shipping tries at an alarming rate and can now only look forward to a National League 2 future. A win for Esher could put more pressure on Blaydon in 2nd place.
However Blaydon, who slipped up against all the odds against Loughborough Students last week face another potential home banana skin in Sedgley Park, fighting for their lives to escape relegation. Sedgley Park cannot be written off but Blaydon have shown that they can be vulnerable, but home form in the end should prove decisive.
Dominant leaders Ealing now unbeaten in 11 games face an Old Albanian side who never give up and buoyed by their last minute win at Sedgley Park. Ealing will not give up their prospect of the Holy Grail so easily so should have a slight edge to win a close game.
Fylde, who struggled to face a depleted Coventry side can’t relish the visit of another strong pack in the guise of Rosslyn Park. On form and providing a strong all round game, Rosslyn Park have the need and ability to beat the Seasiders which could allow them to leapfrog Blaydon and Esher into 2nd spot, and put down a marker for next season.
The final game sees the historical clash between Blackheath and Coventry Rugby. Blackheath in 7th place scored 10 tries in defeating Cambridge including 5 from flanker Dave Allen face a Coventry side still smarting from apparent injustices from their last two defeats. A close encounter is expected as Coventry go to stop a run of 3 defeats and aim for a top half finish.
A more detailed match preview follows.
Coventry Rugby v Blackheath match preview.
Saturday 9th March sees Coventry Rugby visit the Rectory Fields to face Blackheath kick off 3 pm.
“Club” as they are known were founded in 1858 and were one of the founder members of the RFU in 1871 as the game became separate from Association Football.
Last season under Performance Director Yusuf Ibrahim, DOR Steve Pope and coach Mike Friday, Blackheath finished a very creditable 3rd. So far this season they are in 7th place, on 63 points with 12 wins and 10 losses, compared to Coventry’s 10th place on 54 points with 10 wins and 11 losses and 1 draw. Recent news confirm that this is the last season for Yusuf Ibrahim and Mike Friday.
Last season Blackheath did the double over Coventry, but this season in the earlier game at the Butts Park Arena Coventry Rugby won a close match 13-10. A free scoring side Blackheath have so far scored 79 tries compared to Coventry’s 59, with flanker Dave Allen leading the way with 17 tries, including 5 last week against Cambridge. They have a renowned pack with a penchant for rolling mauls.
Blackheath have been in good form since December with 6 wins and 3 losses, with home wins over Esher and Cinderford, and away wins at Richmond, Wharfedale, Blaydon and Cambridge,and are currently on a run of three wins. Their three losses include a one score loss away at Ealing Tfs, with two surprise home losses to Fylde and Old Albanian.
A good all round side Blackheath have both speed and guile in the backs as well as a formidable pack. Rory Teague has been recruited from Cinderford and is a renowned goal-kicker with an able deputy in David Dunne, with ebullient scrum half Jack Walsh. Experience on the wing is found in former London Welsh player Liam Gibson, and speed as fullback with Mick Canty, other wingers Geoff Griffiths and Jamie Hamilton and centre Richard Windsor.
A strong pack is led by locks Tom Bason and Tom Stradwick,and experienced Gethin Davies, with a dominant front row including hooker Gavin O’Meara and prop James Cleverly.
The importance of the back row cannot be ignored with James Catt and the try scoring machine No 7 Dave Allen, who is the team’s leading try scorer with 17 including 9 in the two games against Cambridge.
Once again a close game is expected as Blackheath go for their 4th win in a row and need to break into the top 6, whilst Coventry Rugby want to arrest a run of three losses to give them a chance of finishing in the top half of the table.
For those Coventry supporters wanting to travel to Blackheath the full address of the Blackheath ground is The Rectory Field, Charlton Road, Blackheath, London SE3 8SR. More detailed local instructions can be found on the official Blackheath website www.blackheathrugby.co.uk.
Coventry Rugby press officer
3rd March 2013