Herriott and King reign supreme as Club power to parity
On a dark damp day in December at College Meadow, the Old Elthamian backs, and Dom Lespierre in particular, had ripped Blackheath asunder and set the hosts on their way to a resounding 32-7 victory,
Now, on this dry, sunny afternoon in spring, the Elthamian right-wing would again leave his mark, but on a day perfect for running rugby, and in front of a sun-drenched Well Hall crowd in excess of 1,600, it was the Club front-row who, in the reverse fixture between these near-neighbours, would return the favour and ensure honours even across the two matches.
Hayden King, Matt Miles, Danny Herriott, and later Mike Perks, were simply magnificent, giving their opposite numbers a torrid afternoon and setting the platform for a first half which saw three Blackheath tries, before winning the three penalties in the second period that stretched what had become a narrow lead into a winning one.
Joe Carlisle had given OEs the early advantage, the fly-half kicking three points as the visitors enjoyed territory in the opening ten minutes. But Blackheath’s first sortie across the half-way line saw Jack Walsh (who had led his side on to the field to mark passing 150 appearances in Club colours) dummy across the gain line from line-out ball, and as the hosts probed at close-range, Markus Burcham off-loaded to Leo Fielding for the first try.
Devin Montgomery made the break that enabled Harry Bate to cut inside and send Tom Stradwick rumbling across for a second score, and although Hamish Barton responded with a try for the visitors, the skipper and open-side finding space on the left flank as the OEs pack drove off line-out ball, it was Blackheath who finished the opening period in the ascendancy.
With tempers beginning to fray in the heat, the hosts opted for a five-metre scrum from a penalty infringement and with the solid platform, and good driving work from Bate at open-side, Stradwick found a hole to dive over for his second try which, with Joe Tarrant adding a second conversion, gave the Club a 19-8 lead at the break.
Nevertheless, it was an advantage that would be all but whittled away within twelve minutes of the re-start.
As Walsh headed to the sin-bin for not retreating, opposite scrum-half Ollie Claxton moved blind off line-out ball to scamper across on the right flank, followed soon after by Lespierre in the same corner as OEs exploited the extra space, reducing the arrears to a single point.
However, following a lengthy break for James Clarke to receive treatment for an ankle injury (the referee fortunately able to continue) the Club pack re-tightened their grip and, forcing a series of collapsed scrums, enabled Tarrant to strike the three penalties that moved Blackheath clear, Lespierre’s second try coming too late to threaten the outcome.
The victory in their final home match ensures Blackheath a fifth place finish in National League One, ahead of their Kent rivals. Next Saturday the Club complete their season with a visit to Plymouth Albion, kick-off at Brickfields is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Fielding, Stradwick 2
Conv: Tarrant 2
Pens: Tarrant 3
Tries: Barton, Claxton, Lespierre 2
|13||Markus Burcham (Capt)|