With no less than seven new faces in the starting line-up, six of them in the pack, you’d be a little optimistic to expect a smooth-flowing performance in this, the first of three dress-rehearsals before the season-proper gets under way on 2nd September.
Nevertheless, although patchy in places, the two Kent rivals still managed to conjure up an enjoyable encounter in a proper 80 minute game (as opposed to the untidy four quarter procession of replacements that pre-season games can often amount to) for the decent-sized crowd at Merton Lane.
Blackheath will obviously have emerged the happier at the end of a comfortable-looking four-try to two win, but in a strange way the Club’s new coaching team of James Shanahan and Andy Holloway may have been relieved that their side didn’t take full advantage of a dominant opening quarter which might have brought the game to a premature end as a real contest.
As it was the visitors had to settle for a solitary try from Jake Lloyd, scored after just 80 seconds following neat backhanded pass from Leo Fielding, before Canterbury lifted the siege and, but for carelessly spilt ball on the Club’s goal-line, should have been at least level by the break.
Parity was achieved, however, within two minutes of the re-start as second-row Royce Cadman was driven over, and the city side might have gone ahead moments later when the ball was fumbled again close to the try-line.
Instead it was the visitors who stole the initiative with two tries in three minutes, as Jake Bedding sent Mike Mvelase across from a quickly taken tap-penalty, and Lloyd crossed for his second after ruck ball on the goal-line.
Loose-head Jimmy Green touched down for Canterbury, again from a drive off line-out ball, but Fielding’s arching run on 70 minutes settled the outcome, the Club’s full-back adding a third conversion to a well-taken try.
Blackheath now begin a run of three successive Saturdays at their Well Hall home with the visit of Richmond next week.
Further Championship opposition arrives on Bank Holiday weekend in the form of Bedford Blues, before the 2017/18 National League One begins when Plymouth Albion arrive a week later.
Tries: Lloyd 2, Mvelase, Fielding
Conv: Fielding 3
Tries: Cadman, Green