|Blackheath – 1st Team||13|
|7th Nov 15||3:00 pm|
Blackheath – 1st Team
Hartpury heartbreak as Read leads Club to last-ditch victory
An attritional contest with defences on top for the most part, but no less engaging for that, and with a finish as tight as the final scoreline would suggest.
For 78 minutes of a pulsating match, Hartpury’s defence remained immaculate, a couple of Freddie Gabbitass penalties towards the start of each period their only blemishes.
Late in the day, two Blackheath line-out throws went astray and were tidied up but, with a third, George Edgson threw short, and as the Club pack drove towards the goal-line, and Hartpury got on the wrong side and collapsed, referee Greg MacDonald awarded the penalty try to give the hosts their eighth successive victory, keeping them in second place in the table.
‘It was a close game, but we kept on creating chances and I always felt we could overturn their lead,’ said Blackheath director of rugby Colin Ridgway.
‘We committed too many unforced errors, and our line-out execution was not as it should be, but we built from a solid platform. Terry Read was outstanding at tight-head, he underpinned the scrum, forcing Hartpury to opt for the line-out, and in the loose he turned over possession frequently.’
‘Hartpury are a good well-drilled side with impressive patterns of play,’ he continued. ‘But on balance we deserved the win.’
Nevertheless, Hartpury will feel disappointed having got so close.
The Gloucestershire side’s set-piece, particularly their line-out, grew in stature during a first period when the ball, made greasy by persistent drizzle, slipped from grasp and the visitors played toward a stiff breeze, and when Dan Thomas was driven over the goal-line close on the half hour mark in response to Gabbitass’ second minute penalty, the 5-3 interval lead Hartpury enjoyed was no more than they deserved.
However, from the outset of the second period Blackheath looked much the sharper.
With Geoff Griffiths injecting pace from full-back the hosts began to build phases and, as Robbie Shaw was guilty of a deliberate knock-on, an offence which earned the Hartpury scrum-half a yellow card, Gabbitass’ second penalty on 50 minutes inched Blackheath back in front.
Not for long though. Now Hartpury recycled possession to good effect, and although Blackheath’s defence was also solid for the most part, for once a large hole appeared in midfield for Thomas to stroll through for the open-side’s second try which, with Gareth Thompson’s simple conversion, put daylight between the sides at 12-6.
With Blackheath increasingly gaining the upper hand up front, most notably at the set-scrum, opportunities came and were repelled, but with almost their last throw of the dice the hosts found a way to breach the Hartpury fortress.
‘It’s a great way to win, but a frustrating way to lose,’ said Ridgway’s opposite number Alan Martinovic.
‘Our line-out was good and if we’d won on our throw close to the end in Blackheath’s half, we could have closed the game out. Instead we gave away the penalty and offered them the chance of one last attack. Congratulations to Blackheath for taking their opportunity.’
‘The games come thick and fast though so we won’t dwell on it for too long.’
And he concluded, ‘We’re not even two-thirds of the way through the season yet and the lead in National League One has changed hands a number of times. I think we’re going to see a few more changes yet.’
Next Saturday Blackheath make the short trip up-river along the Thames to meet their ancient foe Richmond. Kick-off at The Athletic Ground is 3.00 pm.
Tries: Penalty try
Pens: Gabbitass 2
Tries: Thomas 2
15 Geoff Griffiths
14 Richard Windsor
13 Markus Burcham
12 Simon Whatling
11 Tom Chapman
10 Freddie Gabbitass
9 Jack Walsh
1 Aston Croall
2 George Edgson
3 Terry Read
4 Gregor Gillanders
5 Tom Stradwick
6 Tom Baldwin
7 Dave Allen
8 Anders Nilsson
16 Tom Ellis – not used
17 Bertie Haskins – not used
18 Chris Sewell – not used
19 Mike Mvelase (Windsor)
20 Leo Fielding (Chapman)