A straightforward victory for Blackheath which make it five wins on the bounce, although the Club will feel a little disappointed not to have picked up the four-try bonus that their endeavour and enterprise merited.e
For that, Wharfedale can take a lot of credit. On a perfect autumnal day in October, Blackheath had inflicted a 52-12 defeat on the Yorkshiremen on their home turf up in the Dales, their worst result of the current campaign, but on this chilly January afternoon Wharfedale’s defence proved far more resolute. Added to that, their converted try on the hour, when wing Oliver Cicognini won the race to touch down full-back Lloyd Davies’ well-directed grubber to the left corner, brought the Greens back into a contest that had looked lost, giving the visitors a glimmer of salvaging some reward going into the final quarter.
Nevertheless, for the most part, Blackheath looked untroubled, particularly during an opening period in which they enjoyed a majority of possession and territory. Wharfedale’s only serious threat early on came from a third minute penalty, but the stiff breeze made life difficult for both goal-kickers and the strike went wide of the mark.
Blackheath also saw an early shot miss the uprights, as well as attempts to be expansive break down in the Dalesmen’s twenty-two, but in the 21st minute the deadlock was broken. Markus Burcham switched an attack back to the left side of the field, and as Richard Windsor found a long pass to Aston Croall out wide, the loose-head sent Ben Summers sliding across in the corner.
Tom Trotter found himself bundled into touch just short of the goal-line and Mike Canty lost his footing on a part of the surface made sticky by overnight rain. But following a scrum on half-way, and ball was moved swiftly along the three-quarter line, the full-back found firmer ground to sear through the Greens’ defence, giving the hosts a 10-0 lead at the break.
Another sweeping attack at the outset of the second period saw Wharfedale up off-side five-metres from their goal-line. Opting for the set-scrum, the Club gained forward momentum and with Dale coming around the wrong side, the penalty try was conceded.
However, Blackheath’s attempts to add to their tally were to be frustrated and gradually the Yorkshiremen, with their excellent open-side Dan Solomi at the heart of most of their efforts, lifted their game to enjoy far more territory and possession than they’d gained in the first period. Great defence, led as ever by Richard Pike, thwarted a line-out drive, and Burcham put in some crunching tackles in midfield, but on 59 minutes another throw set up the move from which Cicognini beat Canty to touch-down for the try which, with fly-half Jamie Guy this time converting beautifully from out wide, brought Wharfedale within three points of a losing bonus point.
Indeed, in a frantic finale each side ran the ball from deep, looking for the extra score which might have given that additional return for their afternoon’s work, but the defences held firm and both were to be denied.
Next Saturday, Blackheath head to the Forest of Dean for their meeting with Cinderford, before returning to Rectory Field a week later to take on their oldest rivals Richmond.
Tries: Summers, Canty, Penalty try