|Blackheath – 1st Team||23|
|9th Jan 16||3:00 pm||National League One||2015|
|108 Charlton Road, London SE7 7EY, UK|
Blackheath – 1st Team
Club patiently bring Hawks down to earth!
In the lead-up to this game, Blackheath skipper Markus Burcham had predicted his side might be in for a tough arm-wrestle against a team scrapping for points in the lower reaches of National League One. Indeed for nearly an hour of this tight contest Henley held the advantage, largely thanks to a frantic opening that saw three tries in the first ten minutes.
However, as the second period wound on, the Club pack gradually gained the ascendancy and control that saw them close out the game.
‘It wasn’t our best performance,’ said Blackheath director of rugby Colin Ridgway.
‘We weren’t as clued up in defence as we’ve been in recent weeks, and Henley were able to live off our errors which gifted them their two early tries.’
‘We struggled in our interpretation of some of the decisions early on too, but we spoke at half-time about tidying up our defence and remaining patient and the scores would come,’
‘I’m pleased with the win, but this is a game we targeted and I can’t help feeling it’s a point lost.’
Despite the rain-sodden conditions, both sides started at pace, but as Blackheath’s opening attack fell foul of the law on the opposition twenty-two, Hawks’ scrum half Connor Murphy caught the hosts cold with a quick-tap to launch a move that went nearly 80-metres, outside-centre Liam O’Neill racing away for the converted score.
Blackheath responded with their own move from deep, as Geoff Griffiths came off his wing, and Jake Lloyd made the inside pass, for Burcham to bring the scores level, but although Dave Allen mopped up after Henley broke tackles to move quickly into Club territory soon after, possession was turned over and open-side Rob Bell dived across for a 12-7 advantage.
Frustration dominated for the hosts during the remainder of the period as, despite controlling territory, with Tom Baldwin standing out both in the loose and at the line-out, Blackheath’s attacks came to nothing with Henley somehow managing to splinter their attempted drives, along with some unforced errors, but the second half saw their patience rewarded.
Freddie Gabbitass converted a 47th minute penalty, as Henley were penalised for side entry, and although for a short period the line-out floundered, with Kieron Scutt magnificent at tight-head a massive shove from a scrum soon won a penalty to regain field position. This time Scott Wright’s throw was secured and the maul saw Allen across on 55 minutes for the open-side’s eleventh try of the season and a lead Blackheath would not relinquish.
A further scrum infringement gave Gabbitass the opportunity to extend the lead beyond a converted score, and although Henley gained three attacking line-outs in quick succession, all were lost and a late penalty from Blackheath’s Leo Fielding completed the scoring.
‘We made a great start playing the kind of attractive, expansive rugby we aspire to, and scoring a couple of really good tries,’ said Hawks’ head coach Pete Davies. ‘However, in the second half we lacked accuracy and the three five-metre line-outs that went astray hurt us and ultimately lost us the match.’
‘But there are plenty of positives to take from this game and we won’t be downbeat,’ he continued. ‘The key thing is to look at today and continue to work hard. We’re a tight-knit group of players who are not prepared just to be plucky losers and I’ve every confidence we’ll find the victories that will keep us in this league.’
Blackheath remain second in National League One, three points behind Richmond, and next week travel to Darlington Mowden Park. Kick off at the Northern Echo Arena is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Burcham, Allen,
Conv: Gabbitass 2
Pens: Gabbitass 2, Fielding
Tries: O’Neill, Bell