A fine first period would be followed by a somewhat complacent second, to allow Cinderford to claw their way back from a 15-point deficit and share the spoils on this delightful, if chilly, afternoon in the Forest of Dean.
Blackheath were on top from the outset as ball was turned over following the kick off, putting pressure on the hosts to go off-side in the first minute, enabling Mark Cooke to establish an early lead.
Five minutes later and a quick throw-in from Stef Liebenberg, followed by a neat pass from Markus Burcham to put fellow centre Henry Staff on break, saw the Club pack pick and drive their way beneath uprights, before Tom Williams drove over to extend the advantage to 10-0.
Fly-half Lee Hemming cut through a gap in the Club defence to put wing Sam Smith across in response for the hosts, but an error at the re-start allowed Blackheath to attack again, and as Tom Stradwick pinched a Cinderford throw, Neale Patrick crashed over for a second try for the visitors.
Liebenberg then marshalled his side through more phases in Cinderford territory for Craig Dowsett to swivel his way across for try number three, and with Cooke adding the conversion, Blackheath held a 22-7 lead on 25 minutes.
However, it was to signal the end of Blackheath’s dominance. A wayward final pass denied Cinderford a score prior to the break, but with Stradwick temporarily removed for collapsing the maul, the Gloucestershire side drove hooker Nathan Taylor across in the 49th minute.
Moments later a perfectly weighted chip from full-back Stefan Hawley was met by Hemming to send scrum-half Ewan Fenley over, and with the easy conversion, Cinderford were back within three points.
With Blackheath’s line-out starting to creak, the odds were firmly with the men from the Forest, but the serious leg injury that saw a twenty minute delay, and the unfortunate Club full-back Nick Foster stretchered from the field, disrupted their momentum.
However, despite a red card for Cinderford open-side Aaron Ryan for an elbow to the head, Hemming landed the 74th minute penalty for hands in the ruck from 40-metres that brought the scores level, and although Cooke had an opportunity from an identical distance as the hosts’ scrum disintegrated in the final play, the Club fly-half didn’t have the advantage of the stiff breeze and watched his shot fall agonisingly short.
Next Saturday Blackheath return to home territory to face Loughborough Students. Kick off at Well Hall is at 3 pm.
Tries: Smith, Taylor, Fenley
Conv: Hemming 2
Tries: Williams, Patrick, Dowsett
Conv: Cooke 2
|12||Markus Burcham (Capt)|