Blackheath barrier bars battling Old Boys
Six wins out of seven starts to keep Blackheath on a roll, and challenging at the top of National League One, though not a game that will be remembered as a classic.
Indeed this was a match punctuated by numerous errors and penalties conceded by both sides, but it was Old Albanian who ended up paying the dearer price.
‘It felt like any mistake we made today was punished severely,’ said Albanian head coach Gavin Hogg.
‘We felt we had the lion’s share of possession, particularly in the first half, but didn’t get any reward for it. That’s probably the best defence we’ve come up against so far this season which shut us down really well in the centre.’
‘They were very competitive at the breakdown which stopped us getting any forward momentum.’
Sure enough, Blackheath’s defence was heavily tested, but only after the Club had taken the initiative with two early tries.
With Albanian conceding three penalties in the opening four minutes, as well as missing a couple of kicks to touch, Blackheath soon found themselves with field position. As the Club pack, which included both Matt Miles and Harry Bate playing against their former club, drove forward off line-out ball, Tom Baldwin crashed across for the first score, and with Leo Fielding coming into the three-quarter line from full-back to receive Markus Burcham’s beautifully timed pass following a scrum on half-way, Jake Lloyd crossed for a second, Joe Tarrant adding both conversions from out wide for a 14-0 lead.
Tom Bednall responded with a long-range penalty as the Club were penalised for holding on, but even a succession of line-outs close to the hosts’ goal-line brought no return for the visitors. The Albanian scrum was also solid, but with Josh Davies and Tarrant marshalling from half-back the Club defence held firm and a breakaway move shortly before the interval was thwarted as Burcham and Mark Cooke, both superb in the Club midfield, mopped up the danger.
The second period followed in a similar pattern as Blackheath opened with a three try burst.
A fumble at the re-start handed the Club a scrum from which Tarrant found a gap to slip over, and the bonus point try came as another penalty found its way to touch and, on his home debut, James Hallam crashed over from close-range.
Then, as Blackheath turned over possession in their own half of the field, Leo Fielding released Davies, the scrum-half sprinting down the right touch-line to put the Club out of sight in the 51st minute before the visitors dominated possession and territory once again to no avail.
‘Obviously I’m delighted with the five points,’ said Club head coach James Shanahan. ‘We took our chances well and scored five good tries.’
‘However, I’m disappointed we didn’t execute the plans we practised in training and didn’t respect the ball well enough, which gave away too much possession.’
‘Our defence was excellent. Just a pity we had to do so much of it.’
Blackheath remain in fourth position in National League One and next Saturday the Club are at home again as they welcome Darlington Mowden Park, the side just above them in the table, to Well Hall. Kick-off is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Baldwin, Lloyd, Tarrant, Hallam, Davies
Conv: Tarrant 3
15 Leo Fielding
14 Geoff Griffiths
13 Markus Burcham (Capt)
12 Mark Cooke
11 Jake Lloyd
10 Joe Tarrant
9 Josh Davies
1 James Hallam
2 Matt Miles
3 Danny Herriott
4 Chukwuma Osazuwa
5 Tom Stradwick
6 Freddie Owen
7 Harry Bate
8 Tom Baldwin
16 Harry Fry
17 Kieron Scutt
18 Hugh McCormick-Houston
19 Jack Walsh
20 Tom Chapman