EEEs erase Club composure
After the euphoria of rising to second in the National League One table with the previous week’s victory over Darlington Mowden Park, a reality-check for Blackheath as they produced their worst performance since James Shanahan took charge in the summer.
Against an Esher side struggling for form, and with a run of five successive defeats dropping them to 13th in the league, but with a benevolent Club offering up a significant head-start to this contest at Molesey Road, the hosts sensed a chance to kick-start their campaign and grabbed it with obvious glee.
First, an attack down the left flank shrugged off tacklers for inside ball to send full-back Lloyd Davies over and then, moments later, a kick from defence was run back through a misaligned defence for wing Ben Loader to cross, giving the Surrey team a 14-0 lead in as many minutes.
Slowly Blackheath hauled themselves into the match, largely thanks to the tireless efforts of Harry Bate. The open-side would be instrumental in all three of the Club’s scores as he made the hard yards to take the visitors close enough for Josh Davies to dive across on 20 minutes, and then again under the posts off line-out ball before Mike Mvelase squirmed around defenders to send Tom Chapman over out wide.
Joe Tarrant added both conversions, the second an excellent strike from the left touch-line, but opposite fly-half Paul Roberts had already landed a penalty on the half-hour, as Blackheath went off their feet at the breakdown, for a 17-14 interval lead.
The second period was punctuated by a total of sixteen penalties, but although Esher conceded the majority with nine (two of them resulting in yellow cards for no arms tackles) it was the ones against Blackheath that held the greater significance, most notably within three minutes of the re-start as two infringements enabled the Esher pack to drive towards the goal-line, and wing Tom James to dive over for a third score.
Nevertheless, with eight points the deficit there was still plenty of opportunity, but despite holding the territorial, and numerical, advantage the composure and control of recent weeks deserted Blackheath, and trying to force the game resulted in frequent handling errors and poor decision-making.
Eventually, with an hour played, the visitors put together enough phases to send Markus Burcham across out wide on the right flank (Bate making the final pass) but Esher were determined not to let this one slip.
Responding to their second yellow card, the EEEs pack stepped up their game, and as the Club’s set-piece collapsed with three line-outs going astray and the scrum coughing up two penalties, Roberts struck the two further goals that saw his side home.
Next Saturday Blackheath return to Well Hall for the visit of Bishop’s Stortford. The kick-off for this match has been brought forward to 2.00 pm to accommodate the first Test between England Deaf Rugby and New Zealand Deaf Rugby which starts at the same venue at 5.00 pm.
Tries: Davies, Loader, James
Conv: Roberts 2
Pens: Roberts 3
Tries: Davies, Chapman, Burcham
Conv: Tarrant 2
|13||Markus Burcham (Capt)|