Blackheath 24 Richmond 24

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No longer a winning run, but Blackheath remain unbeaten in 2015, for which they can thank Ryan Squires.

The Club wing was responsible for 19 of his side\’s points including the last-ditch penalty that salvaged the draw, and cancelled out a 58th minute strike for Richmond full-back Rob Kirby, the only other score of the second period.

In contrast the opening half saw six tries, three apiece, and it was Squires who had crossed twice to put Blackheath 14-0 ahead by the seventh minute.

An early strike against the head saw Richard Pike drive forward and Mike Canty off-loading to Squires who won the race to ground his own 30-metre grubber kick in the right corner. And then, as Richmond threw a loose pass in their own twenty-two, Squires was again on hand to mop up, before weaving a pass to cross for a second try, the right-wing converting both scores.

Nevertheless, at the other end Squires’ tally would be almost matched, and by a player who hadn’t even started the contest.

Tom Sargeant only joined the fray in the 13th minute, after the unfortunate Matt Chambers had left the field. But as his side cranked up the forward power, the replacement number-eight became the beneficiary of two massive drives off close-range line-out ball, one on either side of the field, which with Kirby’s superb kicking brought the Surrey side level by the end of the first quarter.

Parity was short-lived. With Nik Grier starting at hooker, and 19-year old Freddie Owen making his Club debut at lock, Blackheath also had a functioning line-out, and as the hosts drove from close-range, Richmond collapsed for referee Veryan Boscawan to award the penalty try, at the same time dispatching open-side Ben Lonergan for ten minutes for the offence.

However, Richmond still held the upper hand up front and, as the visitors were restored to full strength, a massive surge from a five-metre set-scrum saw Sargeant complete a 25-minute hat-trick, Kirby adding a third conversion for 21-apiece at the break.

Stefan North’s introduction (enabling Aston Croall to switch to his more favoured loose-head) steadied the set-scrum, and even gave Blackheath a marginal edge as the second period progressed but, backed up by some neat tactical kicking from Kirby, and half-backs Callum Grant and Rory Damont, Richmond continued to enjoy a vast majority of territory.

Blackheath’s out-of hand kicking was less impressive, gifting possession back to the opposition, while two penalties failed to find touch, and the loss of Simon Whatling to injury at the break denied them some tactical nous.

Their defence, however, was outstanding, the only blemishes coming close to the hour when Kirby kicked his side into a narrow lead, and then again on 75 minutes when Blackheath were guilty of interfering on the floor.

But the Richmond full-back pushed his effort wide, and as Blackheath launched one final assault in the dying seconds, the visitors were penalised for failing to roll away from the ruck, and Squires, who’d seen his 40-metre strike 15 minutes earlier hit the upright, held his nerve to restore the balance one final time.

Next Saturday, Blackheath travel to Cheshire to face Macclesfield, before returning to Rectory Field a week later for the visit of Esher.

Blackheath

Tries:   Squires 2, Penalty try

Conv:  Squires 3

Pens:    Squires

Richmond

Tries: Sargeant 3

Conv:  Kirby 3

Pens:    Kirby

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