Park at the double while Club falter
An electric start to each half saw Rosslyn Park cruise to a victory almost as convincing as the one they claimed in the reverse fixture at The Rock in October, achieving in the process a National League One double over their rivals from around the South Circular.
Two tries within a quarter of an hour set the visitors on the road, and although Blackheath worked their way back to within a couple of points at the interval, a second brace in an even shorter space of time after the re-start left the hosts floundering.
‘We’d talked about starting well,’ said Park coach Scott Sneddon. ‘Our shape and discipline went astray a bit later in the first period, but we came back again and, overall, our handling and defence were outstanding.’
‘We know how good Blackheath can be if they get decent possession, and it’s always tough to come to their patch, but Sam Aspland-Robinson was superb and made one of the early breaks to ensure we came out of the blocks firing and that was the difference.’
Indeed, the right-wing would prove a handful throughout. Initially though it was outside-centre Andrew Henderson’s early run that took play to the Club goal-line, and although the move ended with ball lost forward, a penalty at the resultant scrum (one of five conceded by the hosts in the opening minutes) allowed Park to drive from the line-out and scrum-half Russell Weir found space on the blind-side for the first score.
Harry Leonard added a well-struck conversion, before missing with a penalty strike soon after, but as the drop-out was struck long, Aspland-Robinson cut open the Club defence with hardly a hand laid on him before off-loading to Henderson to breeze through for a 12-0 advantage with only 13 minutes played.
However, almost from nowhere, Leo Fielding’s 17th minute interception try disrupted the Surrey side’s smooth flow, and with the Club inside-centre adding the conversion followed by a penalty on the half hour, the hosts, working off an improving set-piece, and with their discipline reinstated, were entitled to feel they’d weathered the storm and were fully in contention with the deficit reduced to 12-10 at the break.
Nevertheless, all optimism would be dashed within seven minutes of the re-start.
Almost straight from the kick-off Adam Frampton rampaged across the goal-line, wiping out all the progress of the second quarter at a stroke, and as Blackheath looked for field position with a penalty to touch, Hugo Ellis intercepted a pass off the back of the line-out, the Park skipper and number-eight storming away to score from 60-metres and move his side 16-points clear.
As Park stepped up the pressure up front to win two scrum penalties, Harry Hudson was driven across from close range, and although Blackheath, who gave debuts to Alex Pickersgill, Joe McEvoy and Adam Kwasnicki, as well as seeing the return of Jesse Liston in this match, somehow conjured up a try for Tom Baldwin after a rare line-out steal, the visitors claimed the final word as Leonard added a late penalty.
‘A few poor results of late have affected us mentally and we’re finding it difficult to claw our way back in games,’ said Blackheath skipper Markus Burcham.
‘We’re panicking, trying to score off first-phase possession all the time, which is leading to errors, and when you do that against a side like Rosslyn Park you’re going to be punished.’
‘Credit to Park who took their chances well, but we gave them too many easy points,’
National League One takes a break next weekend, but Blackheath are back in action on Friday night as they host Sidcup in the semi-final of the Kent Cup. Kick-off at Well Hall is at 7.30 pm and entry is free.
Tries: Fielding, Baldwin
Tries: Weir, Henderson, Frampton, Ellis, Hudson
Conv: Leonard 4
15 Jamie Davies
14 Alex Pickersgill
13 Markus Burcham – Capt
12 Leo Fielding
11 Jake Lloyd
10 Simon Whatling
9 Tom Chapman
1 Aston Croall
2 Mike Perks
3 Kieron Scutt
4 Gregor Gillanders
5 Devin Montgomery
6 Freddie Owen
7 Chris Walker
8 Tom Baldwin
16 Adam Kwasnicki
17 George Baker
18 Tom Stradwick
19 Jesse Liston
20 Joe McEvoy