Club rise above Amps power surge
The second time in two home matches that Blackheath have won by a single point, and the second time it was left to the boot of Joe Tarrant to determine the outcome in the dying moments.
Unlike the kick that had sunk Plymouth Albion a fortnight ago, this was a relatively straightforward shot for a right-footed goal-kicker, but Tarrant had missed a potential seven points through the course of the match, and must have felt the pressure as he lined up this effort against his former club.
Nevertheless, he stroked it beautifully, and with the re-start out on the full, and the masterly Club front-row of Hayden Smith, Matt Miles and Danny Herriot winning a scrum penalty, Blackheath were able to consign Ampthill to their first defeat of the campaign.
Ampthill, however, will have left Well Hall knowing that this was a game they had let slip from their grasp. The Bedfordshire side’s mighty pack had started to turn the screw as the second period progressed, but their failure to close the game out when they had the opportunity would cost them.
The visitors had the best of an untidy opening too, despite losing their first two line-outs to the excellent Tom Baldwin, but as Blackheath lost control of their own throw on 14 minutes, the hosts failed to deal with the loose ball and Amps’ open-side Joe Bercis gathered to go over for the first try, converted by right-wing James Pritchard.
Gradually Blackheath began to up the tempo with Tom Chapman and Baldwin making useful breaks, and as pressure on the Amps goal-line resulted in a yellow card for tight-head Karl Garside, the second of two set-scrums under the uprights saw ball moved right. Geoff Griffiths’ chip towards the corner initially looked too heavy but bounced up nicely for Jake Lloyd to collect and touch down for the unconverted score.
Ampthill responded with a Pritchard penalty as Blackheath came up off-side, but a high tackle meant hooker Aleki Lutui becoming the visitors’ second sin-bin victim and Tarrant converted the three points to reduce the hosts’ deficit to 8-10 at the break.
Nine minutes after the re-start Blackheath took the lead. Spurning an easy three points on offer, a quickly taken tap penalty and Tarrant’s long pass saw Mark Cooke over for an unconverted score, but with Lutui back on the field the Ampthill pack began to assert its authority.
A huge drive off line-out ball on the hour pushed play deep into Club territory, and as a penalty from a scrum infringement provided a further throw, Nigel Baker came off his left-wing to join the shove towards the Club’s goal-line and crash over to restore the advantage for the visitors.
Ampthill looked likely to score again as Blackheath lost Anders Nilsson to the sin-bin for collapsing in the desperate defence, but the ball was held up over the goal-line, and with possession lost from the ensuing five-metre scrum, the visitors’ chance had gone.
Now it was the hosts who ground their way up field, and as they went through numerous phases, Amps came round the wrong side of the ruck to concede the penalty which settled the match.
Next Saturday Blackheath travel to the West Midlands to take on title favourites Coventry. Kick off at Butts Park Arena is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Lloyd, Cooke
Pens: Tarrant 2
Tries: Bercis, Baker
|13||Markus Burcham (Capt)|