1st XV Match Preview V Old Elthamians (A) Sat 02/12/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

Birmingham Moseley make a trip into the unknown on Saturday when they travel to Kent to take on Old Elthamians for the first time.

The London club was founded in 1911, originally in Blackheath, by the old boys of Eltham College. Early in the clubs history they moved a few miles down the road to Chislehurst where they played matches until very recently. A move in 2016 sees the club take up residence its new home at College Meadows, part of Eltham College.

Starting off league rugby in the Kent leagues the club has progressed through the London leagues until they entered National rugby in 2014 as part of National 2 South. The rapid rise over the last ten years continued with the team’s promotion last season as winners of the National 2 North v South playoff beating Sale 14-19. Throughout the season Elthamians kept the pressure on eventual champions Bishops Stortford, equalling them on games won, eventually losing out to try bonus points. They were, however given a run for their money by third place Chinnor who equalled their 122 league points, but not their matches won.

In order to prepare for their National One campaign Elthamians have drafted in a number of players with experience of rugby at higher levels including Prop Alex Rogers & full back Sam Egerton from Newcastle Falcons, fly half Joe Carlisle from Perpignan and London Scottish centre Kieran Moffatt.

So far this season Old Elthamians have not been overawed by life in National One by any means. Currently sitting in ninth place they have enjoyed wins over Fylde 7-43, Loughborough Students 36-20, Cambridge 28-29, Caldy 23-21 and Rosslyn Park 34-27, along with a 17 all draw away at Plymouth Albion. Along the way the team also held Coventry to a loss by just 4 points 16-20. Sitting just seven points below Birmingham Moseley they are clearly not a team to be underestimated.

One of the key danger men Birmingham Moseley will need to contain this week is former Coventry wing Dom Lespierre who has already picked up 11 tries to date, including a hat trick at Cambridge, to see him topping the leagues list of try scorers.

This weekend Birmingham Moseley will also need to put behind them a performance last Saturday which, although yielding a win, was far from representative of the standard they have set themselves. Having a numerical advantage for nearly 2/3 of the game, following a red card to Caldy’s prop, they failed to capitalise. The inability to convert this to points was partly due to Caldy’s dogged defence, however the team made far too many handling errors and failed to put pressure on the opposition by keeping them pinned back in their 22.

Still, we cannot be too critical of a team who made it now four wins in a row, let us just hope we see a return to the form that yielded 5 point wins against the likes of Loughborough & Esher.