|Blackheath – 1st Team||6|
|5th Mar 16||3:00 pm|
Blackheath – 1st Team
Club fall short as Richmond march on
The 237th meeting between club rugby’s oldest adversaries and, arguably, the most significant, at least in the modern era.
In the end, after a typically tight, attritional, heavyweight slugging match, it was victory for Richmond, and a result that moves the Surrey club a step closer to the Championship and the fully professional level of the game they briefly enjoyed in the late 1990s.
‘It was a match that could have gone either way, as did the one in November at our place when we won by three points, but I’m delighted to come away with the win’ said Richmond head coach Steve Hill.
‘Both sides had chances. Blackheath had the better of the first period and deserved their lead, but we put some good phases together in the second and I was pleased with our discipline.’
‘Sam Stuart controlled the game well from scrum-half and Ross Grimstone had a great match, particularly in the loose.’
In fact Blackheath led the contest until after the hour-mark thanks to two first half penalties from the boot of Freddie Gabbitass.
The first strike came in the thirteenth minute as Richmond prevented release, reward for some neat handling and well-constructed phases, but it was the visitors who came closest to crossing the try-line.
As an awkward bounce in the Club twenty-two caught out the hosts, Charlie Broughton had more time than he realised to control the ball on the goal-line, but the Richmond wing knocked-on, to the relief of the home crowd.
Pressure was maintained from the visitors, but Dave Allen, outstanding as ever, turned over possession, and as Blackheath gained ground, a high tackle on Simon Whatling on the stroke of half-time allowed Gabbitass to double the lead to 6-0.
The third quarter was when Blackheath should have stolen a march and taken the game away. With their set-scrum increasing in ascendancy, combined with a couple of decent line kicks from Gabbitass, they dominated territory but, having pierced the defence and support out wide, Markus Burcham appeared to hesitate with the try-line at his mercy and the best chance of the match was gone.
Instead, two penalties gave Richmond field position and in the 59th minute Jack Allcock was driven across for the only try of the match. With the momentum swinging decisively towards the visitors, Rob Kirby struck the 67th minute penalty that gave his side the lead for the first time, and with control of possession the league-leaders were able to see out time and extend their unbeaten run to ten games.
‘Richmond will be as relieved as we’re disappointed,’ said Club director of rugby Colin Ridgway.
‘Our scrum was dominant and the line-outs equal and we had enough opportunity in the second period to take the game way, but we failed to convert our pressure into points and too many penalties gave them their chances which they took.’
The loss, Blackheath’s fourth in five matches, and their first reversal at Rectory Field this season, concludes a month which has seen the Club lose their mantle as serious promotion challengers to be left fighting for the runners-up places, but Ridgway was still keen to send out a positive message.
‘It’s been a disappointing period for us, but on the whole I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made this season. We’ve got the right personnel in place and we’re moving in the right direction.’
Blackheath’s next match is away to Plymouth Albion on 19th March but prior to that, on Friday 11th, three Club men (Jack Walsh, Markus Burcham and Tom Stradwick) will be in action for England Counties as Rectory Field plays host to their match against France Federale at the start of a big weekend for international rugby.
Kick-off is at 7.30 pm and tickets are £6 in advance and £10 on the gate, with entry for accompanied children free of charge
Pens: Gabbitass 2
Referee: Mike Hudson