Darlington Mowed Past
An almost perfect afternoon for the handful of Club supporters who’d made the long trek to County Durham, as Blackheath achieved their first win at the third time of asking at the huge Northern Echo Arena, and capped it with the four-try bonus point with the very last play of the match.
If there was one blemish though it was the ninth minute red card received by Chris Walker.
The Club’s open-side was guilty of landing a punch at the end of a bad-tempered opening, and during which Park had taken the lead through inside-centre James Fitzpatrick, after ball was released to the short-side following a maul towards the goal-line but, arguably, it was the same sanction dealt by referee Hamish Smailes to James Penman for his retaliation that had the greater impact on the contest’s outcome.
The loss of their captain and hooker caused the hosts’ line-out, which had worked smoothly enough to set the drive for what would be their only score of the match, to disintegrate, leaving the visitors in command of both set-piece phases of the game.
Having already clawed back three points with a sixth minute Mark Cooke penalty, the lead was taken at the end of the first quarter, as Blackheath went through a number phases before space emerged for Tom Chapman to cross out wide. And as Cooke kept the pressure on with some neat line-kicking, a grubber from the Club fly-half caused a fumble in the Park defence and Jake Lloyd popped the ball up for Freddie Owen to canter over for a second try, before two more penalties extended the advantage to 19-5 at the break.
The lead was increased to 19-points as Dan George was driven over after Lloyd forced Park to concede a penalty straight from the re-start, but two further opportunities to score lacked the required accuracy and, for the most of the second period, defences took charge.
However, with time running short, a penalty from Blackheath’s superior scrum was kicked to touch and Markus Burcham’s long pass found Cooke to dive across in the left corner.
‘It’s a difficult place to go, but the boys showed a lot of effort and commitment, especially around the breakdown area,’ said director of rugby Colin Ridgway.
‘Mark Cooke and Tom Baldwin managed the pitch well in terms of territory, keeping us on the front foot and enabling us to create the chances which choked the life out of the game during a dominant first period.’
‘Park came back into game after the interval which tested our defence, and we made a few mistakes going forward, but we rallied to get the four-try bonus in the dying moments, which is really pleasing.’
Next Saturday Blackheath return to Well Hall for the visit of Loughborough Students. Kick off is at 3.00 pm.
Darlington Mowden Park
Tries: Chapman, Owen, George, Cooke
Pens: Cooke 3
15 Jamie Davies
14 Jake Lloyd
13 Markus Burcham – Capt
12 Geoff Griffiths
11 Tom Chapman
10 Mark Cooke
9 Sam Eydmann
1 Aston Croall
2 Dan George
3 Terry Read
4 Gregor Gillanders
5 Devin Montgomery
6 Freddie Owen
7 Chris Walker
8 Tom Baldwin
16 Mike Perks
17 Kieron Scutt
18 Anders Nilsson
19 Simon Whatling
20 Dan Hamilton